From roast and potatoes, Indian tacos to cantaloupe cake, Cherokee elders can now get a warm, satisfying meal at the Nowata Nutrition Center three days a week.
This month the center in Nowata, Oklahoma hired a cook and met all inspections to begin serving meals in the tribe’s newest senior nutrition site from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Cherokee citizens ages 50 and up, and their spouses, are eligible to eat for free, and for $1 can access a public van for rides there.
“This is an effort to reach out to those Cherokee citizens in the tribe’s northern territory that haven’t had accessible programs until now,” Chief Bill John Baker said. “Since opening the Nowata nutrition and food distribution center next to it, we have already seen a large increase in services being provided to our citizens there.”
The Cherokee Nation was among the first tribe in the country, back in the 1980s, to run a program where seniors could come in for weekly meals.
The tribe now operates 14 senior nutrition sites with the Nowata center the first tribally owned one. The Cherokee Nation provides food, workers and help with utilities for the other 13 programs but does not own the buildings. The Nowata Nutrition Center is also unique in that it has a grocery-store like food distribution center attached that opened in June to provide qualifying Cherokees nutritious foods. Families accessing it have tripled with 310 families last month versus about 75 families that accessed food from three Nowata area tailgate sites the month prior to opening.
The Nowata Nutrition Center now expects to serve 75 seniors on meal days, said Lisa James, who manages the 14 sites, which serve 4,400 Cherokees total per month.
“We didn’t have any nutrition sites up in that area so this will help many seniors find a place for good meals and good company,” she said.
Cherokee elders are encouraged to call the Nowata center the morning of to RSVP for lunch.
For more information on the Cherokee Nation’s senior nutrition sites call Lisa James at 918-453-5241. To contact the Nowata Nutrition Center at 1018 Lenape Dr., call 918-273-0050 or to access the van services to the site call 800-482-4594.