DURANT – The Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority (CNHSA) distributed a record 71,000 meals during the Summer Food Program through its grant.

“With the success of this summer, our goal is to finish 2020 strong by providing over 90,000 meals with all our programs,” added Debra Queen, Chief Nutritional Services Officer for CNHSA.

The Choctaw Nation Food and Nutrition Services Department participates in the USDA Summer Food Program and the At-Risk After School Program each year.

Early worry about how the COVID-19 pandemic would affect the program’s ability to reach Choctaw families drove the team to be creative and align with partners across the service area.

The USDA lifted the on-site feeding restriction, so many sites were able to send each child home with a week’s worth of nutritious breakfast and lunches.

The program was not able to start in mid-May as normal and the distribution was limited to Latimer and Le Flore counties due to the pandemic.

The team ended the summer serving five times the number of meals than previous years.

“The numbers served this year was not expected,” said Queen. “We just continued to order food to keep the program going, and we had many volunteers to help make it happen.”

The Choctaw Nation Community Centers Staff, Choctaw Nation Summer Camp Staff, Millennium Staff, Boys and Girls Club Staff, and other volunteers contributed to help provide meals to the children.

“It was a marvelous thing to see how during trying times people can be so giving to help others,” stated Queen.