Community , ON Services

Elder Nutrition program celebrates 2019 Older Americans Month

Photo caption: Sue Slinkard, director of the Osage Nation Elder Nutrition program, presents a plaque to Annetta Robertson as part of the Nation's Elder Honors Day celebration on May 17 in Pawhuska. BENNY POLACCA/Osage News

The Osage Nation Elder Nutrition Program honored two elders as part of its annual Honors Day celebration on May 17 in Pawhuska.

Event attendees of all ages attended the luncheon celebration held at the Senior Nutrition (Title IV) Building, which started with a helium balloon launch outside. More than two dozen people attended the special event held to celebrate Older Americans Month.

Sue Slinkard, the Elder Nutrition program director said each May the Administration for Community Living leads the nationwide observance of Older Americans Month.

According to the ACL website on Older Americans Month, this year’s theme is “Connect, Create, Contribute, which encourages older adults and their communities to: connect with friends, family and services that support participation; create by engaging in activities that promote learning, health and personal enrichment; and contribute time, talent and life experience to benefit others.”  

Slinkard said: “We’re just so privileged to be a part of this program to get to see you, each and every day, talk to you,” noting the program also offers meals to homebound elders who are not able to attend the daily congregate lunches held at the Pawhuska facility and the Nation’s Fairfax senior and child care center.

According to the ACL website, congregate meal programs are intended to offer healthy meals, social engagement, access to community resources and volunteer roles.

Slinkard, the director for 32 years, said an approximate total of 80 homebound lunches are sent out weekdays to participating elders with two delivery drivers across the Osage Nation, adding “we do a great service to the Osage Reservation and we’re so glad for it.”   

For 2019, Slinkard selected elders Annetta Robertson and Julia Wilson to receive honor plaques at the event. Julia and her husband Jim Wilson had yet to arrive, but Slinkard presented Robertson with a personalized plaque.

“This is in faithful participation of the Osage Nation Title VI Program, she drives in from the country to eat lunch with us and so we’re thankful … we just want to take this moment and tell you that we love you and we appreciate you for all that you do for the community,” Slinkard said in presenting Robertson’s plaque.

Robertson said in return “I appreciate all that you do” to Slinkard as the attendees applauded.

For this year’s theme, Slinkard said the program tries to stay connected to those who come to eat congregate lunches during the week, adding “I feel like you’re my family and when I don’t see you, I get concerned, so we’ll call anybody that we can to find out what’s going on.” For being creative, Slinkard says the program tries to be creative in different ways and the meal participants keep them inspired, especially when it comes to the menus.

“We’ve learned through the years what you like to eat, what you don’t like to eat – like tilapia. This bunch over here doesn’t like it, but that bunch at Fairfax, they love it,” she quipped. As for contributions, Slinkard thanked the attendees who pay for the meals, noting money raised from the meals goes back to buying groceries for the meal program for the next week and month.

For the weekday lunch meals, at the Senior Nutrition programs in Pawhuska and Fairfax, Native American elders and spouses over age 55 pay a suggested $2 donation per meal and those under age 55 are charged $6 per meal including ON employees who are under age 55.

For more information, contact the Elder Nutrition office at (918) 287-5454 in Pawhuska or (918) 287-5248 in Fairfax.

To view the monthly Elder Nutrition lunch menu, visit its website at https://www.osagenation-nsn.gov/what-we-do/elder-nutrition