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The Chickasaw Nation, based in Ada, Oklahoma, recently hosted U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary Stacy Dean. During her visit, Dean learned about the robust nutrition program operated by the Chickasaw Nation.

 Longtime Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby observed the tribal nation’s commitment to ensure adequate nutrition for community members and said it is a high priority. 

“The more we understand about nutrition and its role in overall health and wellness, the more we comprehend the importance and value to families and individuals in our communities,” Governor Anoatubby said. 

“I think we all know how hunger and malnutrition can hinder a person’s quality of life, curtail longevity and increase the likelihood of a litany of debilitating ailments,” he said. 

Governor Anoatubby said ensuring access to proper nutrition provides the foundation of a healthy population. 

“In children, we know it limits how well they grow, their readiness to learn and how healthy they will be as adults. Conversely - I think we’re all big supporters of this - proper nutrition sets us on the road to success. It makes us healthier, happier individuals, improves quantity and quality of life, and provides a firm foundation for our children’s minds and bodies to grow to their full potential.” 

Governor Anoatubby referred to the longstanding relationship the tribe has had with the USDA. 

“Knowing the importance of nutrition, we are extremely grateful for our partnership with USDA – a fruitful, 45-year partnership that dates to 1978 when we first launched the Chickasaw Nation Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition program (WIC).” 

He said USDA’s partnership enables the Chickasaw Nation to offer a wide variety of nutrition programs, including WIC, food distribution, Local Food Assistance Program, SNAP-Ed, summer food program, farmers markets and summer EBT for children. 

“These programs advance our mutual goal of proper nutrition for thousands in our community, increase nutrition security and promote nutrition education,” he said. 

Governor Anoatubby commended the USDA for modernizing its WIC program. 

“We believe your modernization efforts, in conjunction with special grants dedicated to this purpose, will facilitate meaningful and important improvements to these systems and services. We look forward to collaborating with you to overcome various challenges, ultimately enhancing the participant experience. 

“It is our hope that together we will build a model for many other collaborations between tribal nations and the federal government.” 

Deputy Under Secretary Dean said one of USDA’s primary thrusts is guaranteeing food security for all and complimented the Chickasaw Nation on the creative approaches it has employed toward that end. 

“We have a shared goal of partnership around ensuring that everyone in our country is fed, and fed well, and nourished,” Dean said. 

“The Chickasaw (Nation) has been an incredibly innovative leader in this,” she said. “I’m sure your tenure and your leadership inspires these leaders and these incredible folks across the room to be just unbelievable groundbreakers not just here in your community but across the nation.” 

Deputy Under Secretary Dean said among others, new ideas fostered by the Chickasaw Nation center on online shopping, summer meal delivery, its farmers market, and more. 

“It just goes on and on,” she said. “We’re just delighted to be here to learn from you. I want to thank you and your whole team for offering inspiration and for giving them space to do these remarkable things.” 

The Chickasaw Nation WIC program serves eligible families with nutritious foods, breastfeeding support and other education resources. Services are designed for pregnant or postpartum women, infants and children up to age 5. 

Eligibility requirements for this, and information regarding other programs offered by the Chickasaw Nation, are available by visiting ChickasawNationHealth.net.

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The Native News Health Desk is made possible by a generous grant from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation as well as sponsorship support from the American Dental Association. This grant funding and sponsorship support have no effect on editorial consideration in Native News Online. 
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