Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

Elder Services Implements Vital Nutrition Resources for Our Community

By Richard D. Ackley, Jr.
The Sokaogon Chippewa Community Elder Services program is working extra hard during the pandemic, especially where nutrition is concerned. Current health guidelines require us to limit our contact with aging family members, and the limited family contact may have drawbacks for the aging population, especially if a grandparent, for example, does not eat properly or has limited access to nutritious foods.
Pete McGeshick, III, Elder Services Director, is managing several grants which provide the funding resources to help our Elders achieve better nutrition by offering meals and groceries each week. Pete stated, “I believe our food program is working great!”
In 1978, the Older Americans Act was amended to include Title VI, which established programs for the provision of nutrition and supportive services for Native Americans. The program has since expanded to include caregiver support services. To the extent resources are available after serving Tribal Elders, Title VI nutrition sites may serve eligible non-enrolled Tribal Elders at no cost or for a voluntary contribution. “We’re supplementing five meals each week for our Elders, at an average cost of $7.00 per meal,” Pete said.
Pete explained that the Sokaogon Chippewa Incident Command System (ICS) team is working with Jay Schaefer, of Schaefer’s IGA Foodliner in Crandon, for the weekly food distribution program. According to Pete, funding is from the Families First and Families Cares acts. The Tribe is utilizing funds through five grants along with additional funding earmarked for the pandemic, which amounts to nearly $4,000 of groceries purchased each week. “The problem is no one knows where the pandemic is going as far as time, so we have to provide groceries every week,” Pete explained.
The Elders Services program is challenged with limited manpower in meeting the needs of so many who live alone. The pandemic has imposed greater isolation then even before. “We must concentrate on the needs of our Elders every day. Many do not have family members who can come and see them. I get calls from Elders every single day who need something. The biggest thing we can do now with these programs is simply go out and visit our Elders as much as possible as nutrition services remain critical and many Tribal Members are in need of a caregiver. The Ojibwe have long held traditions of respect, honor and care for our Elders, and meeting their needs today is becoming increasingly difficult,” Pete said.
For information, or to volunteer to help, please contact Pete at 715-478-1229.