DURANT, OK - The Choctaw Nation officially opened a new food distribution center this morning. Officials say they'll now be able to help even more members who are in need and the assistance won't end with this center.
The Choctaw Nation opened its doors Thursday morning to a new $2 million food distribution center in Durant.
But its not your average food bank.
"It's almost like being at Wal-mart or any other small grocery store. You come in, get your food and go through our scanners.Then we scan it out. The only difference is you don't give us any money," said Jerry Tonubbee, food distribution program director.
The food distribution program has been around since 1984 and things have certainly changed since then.
"Years ago we used to deliver our food out in trucks.Our people had to line up in their vehicles and had to wait until the food was delivered to them. So it was really a humiliating time for them. This allows them to have honor, dignity," said Gary Batton, Choctaw Nation chief.
Now, instead of only receiving food once a month, recipients can walk into the new 7,500 square foot center as frequently as needed.
A typical family will receive around 85 pounds of healthy food a month.
"There are no sodas, no sweets or any of that sort of stuff. This is mostly nutritious foods that we provide. Low sodium, low fats, those types of foods," said Tonubbee.
In order to participate in the program you must meet a certain income level and be able to prove Native American heritage.
"C.D.I.B. That's a certificate degree of Indian blood. You have to have Indian blood to be able to participate in this program or at least one member of the household," said Tonubbee.
Choctaw Chief Gary Batton said the new center in Durant is just the start.
"This is one of many that we're going to do. There's this one, we're going to do one in the McAlester area, we're going to do one in the Broken Bow area. But its because we finally have the funds to make things like this happen," said Batton.