News Release – Diné College Donates Meals to Tsaile Senior Citizens Center

Diné College Donates Meals to Tsaile Senior Citizens Center


May 21, 2020

TSAILE, Ariz.— As part of an effort to give back to the community during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Diné College a couple of months ago began a daily meal delivery to Navajo elders in the Tsaile, Lukachukai and Wheatfieds areas of the Navajo Nation.

The Tsaile Senior Citizens Center temporarily closed two months ago due to COVID-19. The college provided the food and senior center officials alerted the community and assisted with delivery. The final senior meal delivery date is May 28.

“We’ve donated over 3,000 meals to elders during this time,” Diné College President Charles M. Roessel, said. “It’s costing us about $10,000 in donating the food, but where else are they going to get that food? And that came from our students. They said: “’What happens to our elders? We want to deliver the meals.’”

Norman Begay, the senior center supervisor who oversees the meal deliveries, said menus consists of hot entreé items. He said the delivery areas are Tsaile, Lukachukai and Wheatfields. A typical dish given out includes meats, fish, vegetables, potatoes, milk and juices.

“The dishes served meet (U.S. Department of Agriculture) standards,” Begay said. “We work with the college on this. The seniors are excited and appreciative about the delivery program.”

Elizabeth Tso, general manager at the Diné College cafeteria, said the pandemic created food insecurities at the Tsaile Senior Citizens Center for many people who regularly look forward to receiving meals.

“It’s gone very well and I think people are happy,” Tso said. “The meals are truly appreciated, especially during the crisis that everyone is going through.”

Begay said the meals are delivered in styrofoam containers. He said a total of 50 meals go out Monday through Friday.

The lunch donation plan is in response to COVID-19. The college shifted its classes to online instruction in March and students and employees must follow stringent rules when coming to either of the college’s six campuses in Arizona and New Mexico.

Added Roessel: “We had some emergency room nurses call and say, ‘I can’t have my son or my daughter at home because I come home everyday, and I don’t want them to get sick. So, we allowed them (the nurses) to stay in our family housing.”



Marie R. Etsitty Nez 
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