Statement regarding Oklahoma’s decision to opt out of new summer food program for children

01/12/24 – Updated to add the Osage Nation to the list of Tribal Nations providing food assistance.

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Statement from OK Policy Executive Director Shiloh Kantz:

Every Oklahoman should be concerned that nearly 1 in 5 of our state’s children are uncertain when their next meal will come, and 84% of our children rely on free or reduced-price lunches during the school year. To turn our backs on a proven, effective way to ensure our children have enough to eat is inexcusable.

It’s welcome news that the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Osage Nations are stepping up to provide summer food programs for all children — Native and non-Native alike — within their reservations, especially considering the governor’s deliberate decision to turn his back on hungry children purely for political gain.

Food security has long been a pressing issue in Oklahoma, especially for children during the summer months. Without action by lawmakers, this situation will not improve. Creating change requires advocates and families to raise their voices to ensure that Oklahoma’s policymakers understand how serious an issue this is for too many of our friends and neighbors.

As a Cherokee Nation citizen, I continue to be so proud of my Tribe and the many other Tribal Nations that have stepped up to fill the gaps created by our state’s lack of investment into our future — our children.

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Shiloh Kantz was named OK Policy's Executive Director in October 2022 following a national search. She first joined the organization in February 2010 serving in roles that included Director of Operations and Development, Deputy Director, and Interim Executive Director. Shiloh is a Rockwood Leadership Institute 2023 National Leading from the Inside Out Fellow, a member of the State Priorities Partnership Steering Committee, and a member of VEST, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities to achieve positions of power and influence for women leaders in the workplace. Prior to joining OK Policy, she worked as a controller for an Oklahoma small business group. She is a wife, mother of three, and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.