SummaryThe Chickasaw Nation Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center (RCPNC) grant was used to perform a Community Needs Assessment coupled with focus groups to determine needs of the local community targeted specifically at families with children who live in Johnston County, Oklahoma. The goal of the Chickasaw Nation RCPNC grant was to provide assistance to these families by increasing coordination among locally operated United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Child Nutrition programs and other nutrition assistance programs. The following needs emerged from the Community Needs Assessment (CNA): a simplified application approach and an improved communication strategy about resources available. Additionally, focus groups revealed participants’ desire to have the income eligibility guidelines for nutrition assistance programs re-evaluated due to minimum wage versus living wage considerations.
To address the identified needs and barriers, Chickasaw Nation has developed a Universal Screening and Referral Tool. This tool is a software program that will allow any certification specialist in Johnston County to input family data for each client to determine all programs for which the client is potentially eligible. Furthermore, to enhance this referral process, communication and outreach will be increased through local internal and external coalition partnerships. Coordination with partners will be achieved through frequent contact and periodic meetings to discuss community needs, strategize plans, delegate tasks, and implement approaches to help alleviate community resource deficiencies. One immediate impact on the barriers is that the data from the CNA has already been utilized to support a grant application to build a Nutrition Services Center in Tishomingo, OK which is the hub of Johnston County. To further impact barriers, steps under consideration are extended office hours for clients who work, and collaboration with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
Lastly, the federal nutrition assistance programs targeted by these strategies are: WIC, SNAP, FDPIR, Summer EBT for Children, Summer Food Service Program, and WIC Farmers’ Market.