WARNER — A grant from the Cherokee Nation can help Warner area residents get nutritious meals.

Cherokee Tribal Council Member Mike Dobbins presented a $25,000 check to Warner town officials and citizens on Tuesday afternoon. The money, which comes from CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security) Act funds,  helps support the Warner nutrition site, located in Warner Community Center.

"I'm pleased to do my part to help my Cherokee elders in a tangible way," Dobbins said. "Most of this funding is going to go toward food security."

The nutrition site serves 40 to 50 people a day, either on site or by carry-out, said Leo Smithson, a liaison between the town of Warner and the nutrition center.

"We have older people, especially older men in the community that live alone," Smithson said. "They are able to get a hot, cooked meal, and are able to take one home with them for supper three days a week."

The center also gives older people a place to socialize, he said.

"We have a domino room," Smithson said. "They come in around 9:30 or 10 a.m., eat lunch, then go their way."

Although the center serves mostly seniors,  people of any age are welcome, Smithson said. 

"We don't refuse service to anybody," he said.

He said the meals are served at noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Hot meals this week include chicken and noodles, hamburgers and chicken strips. People also can call ahead for carry-out, he said. 

Dobbins said some funds also will pay for personal protective equipment.

"I'm grateful to serve the people of Warner in this way," he said, as officials told him they, too, are grateful. 

Warner Mayor Roger Thomason said the grant "is a big, big help for us."

"With the way COVID-19 has been and everything, it's helpful," he said, adding that the pandemic has kept many residents in their houses.

"We're starting to get out more and more, businesses up and going back," he said. "We really appreciate the help."

Smithson said the city has operated the nutrition site for the past two months.

"We previously had a board that ran it for the past 30 years," he said. 

Warner Town Administrator Johnny Lewis said the town sales tax helps pay for nutrition center staff, and state Community Expansion for Nutrition Assistance (CENA) funding pays for the food.

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