Osage Nation Elder Nutrition Program honors Elders during May

A. M. JeffersonON Communications

PAWHUSKA — The Administration for Community Living (ACL), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recognizes May as Older Americans Month. This was first established in 1963 and according to ACL’s website, at that time “only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday.” Statistics revealed that nearly 1/3 of older Americans were residing in poverty. Then on July 14, 1965, The Older Americans Act was signed into law. Nearly seven years later, a new Title VI was created under the Older American Act (OAA) “authorizing funds for a national nutrition program for the elderly.”

Osage Nation Elder Nutrition Program, formerly known as Senior Services Title VI, is the only one of its kind in Osage County according to Director Sue Slinkard. It was one of the first Title VI programs funded.

The program addresses the needs of the Native seniors by providing meals and supportive services through a culturally-sensitive program. What that means is the utmost respect is provided to the Elders. In addition, a traditional meal is served once a month in accordance to the program’s grant. This is a meal reminiscent of when Elders were growing up and when family came together for dinners.

Homebound meals are delivered Monday through Friday to Pawhuska, Hominy and Fairfax. If the weather is bad, such as, snow and/or ice, meals are not delivered. However, calls are made to homebound clients to check on them.

Elder Nutrition also provides activities and special events throughout the year. One recent event was this month in accordance to Older Americans Month. A release of 300+ balloons with the program’s logo was held Friday, May 15th. Director Slinkard and her staff selected Elders to recognize for their participation in the program which were Lou Brock, formerly with the Osage Museum, Trial Court Judge Marvin Stepson, and Kathryn Red Corn of the Osage Minerals Council. The awards were presented during a lunch of finger foods along with healthy veggie and fruit platters.

During the summer months of June and July, Elder Nutrition suspends their monthly activities to allow participants to focus on the Osage dances, In.Lon.Schka. Or to spend time with grandchildren while school is out. Regular meals for carry out, dine-in and the homebound will continue. Then in August as students return to school, activity planning begins again.

These monthly events provided by Elder Nutrition may include trips for participants such as a day at the Tulsa State Fair or Christmas shopping in Ponca City. Other events include special dinners for Valentine’s Day or Halloween.

Requirements for participants in the Osage Nation Elder Nutrition program is for one to be fifty-five years or older and possess a CDIB or tribal membership card. A non-Native spouse is also eligible for the same services. Homebound clients must apply and can receive an application by calling the office; applications are renewed each quarter.

Beginning June 1st, a Farmer’s Market will be setup at different locations throughout Osage County and vouchers given out from Elder Nutrition. To learn more about the Osage Nation Elder Nutrition program or the Farmer’s Market, please contact the office at 1-888-883-3610 or (918) 287-1165.