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Press Release

Release Date: February 17, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

The Chickasaw Foundation recently partnered with Citizens Bank of Ada to provide 501 cinch-close backpacks to the Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Service’s Community Nutrition School Food Pantry Project. The partnership provided much needed assistance in the fight against food insecurity for school-aged children throughout the Chickasaw Nation.

The Community Nutrition School Food Pantry Project furnishes 21 stocked food pantries to area schools. The donated cinch-close backpacks are nondescript and compact so they can be easily placed inside a student’s backpack. The backpacks allow students to visit the pantry without fear of being subjected to any additional social stigma associated with being in need. Backpacks are filled with easy-to-prepare food items and can be returned to the pantry and reused as needed.

The partnership was inspired by Marsha Sanders, who wanted her donation to the Chickasaw Foundation to be used for a food pantry of some kind.

“My friend, Robert, who passed away due to cancer in April, would routinely go get groceries with the help of a tribe in Tulsa,” Sanders said. “Because of that, I simply wanted to direct my donation for something similar. It makes my day knowing my donation inspired this partnership.”

Food insecurity for school-aged children has become especially prominent for those located in rural communities. Food pantries operated by Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services offer easy access to food items to children located in these rural communities.

“When a student or child is able to access food at a school food pantry on their own, they are able to help alleviate the burden of food insecurity for themselves,” said Leslie Cook, special projects coordinator for Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services. “Children are able to access food right where they go to school, and the bags provided will help the children receive food to take home from school with them discreetly.

“School food pantries work hard to maintain confidentiality and reduce the social stigma of food insecurity, and the bag donation directly affects that effort. Social stigma keeps many of those who experience hunger from accessing services. Keeping school food pantries properly supplied with materials like discreet bags for the food will help reduce the social stigma around access to these services, and help reduce hunger in children and communities,” Cook said.

Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services plans to open four more school food pantries during the 2021-2022 school year.

“The Chickasaw Foundation is very proud to have partnered with Citizens Bank of Ada,” said Johnna R. Walker, Chickasaw Foundation chief executive officer. “We are grateful for their generosity to help fight food insecurity in local communities.”

For more information on Citizens Bank of Ada, please visit CitizensAda.bank.

For more information on this and other services provided by Chickasaw Nation Nutrition Services, visit Chickasaw.net.

About the Chickasaw Foundation

The Chickasaw Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission to promote the general welfare and culture of the Chickasaw people by supporting educational, health, historical and community activities and programs.

For additional information or to donate to the Chickasaw Foundation’s efforts, visit ChickasawFoundation.org.