The Osage Nation Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is having a big year.
Since the Tulsa Osage Casino is expanding, the current WIC building sits too close to the construction site and needed to be moved, said Manon Taylor, ON WIC director. Thanks to a $700,000 allocation from the USDA Food Nutrition Service, the WIC will receive a new building for their Tulsa location off 36th Street North. The 3,000-square-foot metal building will arrive on July 28 and will be located across the street from the Tulsa Osage Casino. The completion date for the new building is Nov. 11.
“The current location isn’t visible from 36th Street, and was hard to locate. With this opportunity, we’ll be right off the road and that will help our clients that have disabilities for easier access and it will remove transportation barriers, since the bus stop will be closer to our new location,” she said.
Taylor said the new building will have a WIC Nutrition Food demo kitchen, thanks to a partnership with the OSU Extension Service’s Extension Educator, Donna Robbins, WIC will conduct healthy food demonstrations with WIC nutritional foods for WIC participants.
“This is going to be very beneficial since we don’t have a kitchen at the facility we’re at now, it’s going to be very interactive,” Taylor said. “By teaching our participants to prepare delicious, healthy recipes provided by the program.”
As many current and former WIC participants can attest, it isn’t always convenient to wait in line at the grocery store with paper WIC vouchers, which could cause long lines to form and angry looks from fellow shoppers.
Taylor said that scenario is one of the reasons the USDA is mandating all WIC programs to issue EBT cards to their participants by 2020. The Osage Nation WIC is part of a consortium of seven tribes who will all debut their EBT cards to their participants in December.
The WIC staff has been busy training, having monthly meetings, weekly calls, getting the staff up to date on how the EBT cards will work.
“We’ve been spending all of June, July and August in Oklahoma City for training. We’ve set up computers in our break room so everyone can train,” Taylor said. “We have a long time from when we learn it and implement it. In everyone’s spare moments they’ll be in there going through scripts, doing some testing, familiarizing themselves with the process.”
The Osage Nation WIC will also be hosting the Oklahoma State WIC conference, for all State and local agencies, as well as all Indian Tribal Organizations, Sept. 12-14 in Midwest City at the Sheraton Midwest City Reed Conference Center. It is expected that there will be approximately 400 attendees at the conference that will cover nutrition, administration, credentialing, breastfeeding, cultural competency, customer service and managing stress.