ANMC serves healing, traditional foods to our peopleJune 17, 2016
For years, Alaska Native leaders negotiated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for permission to serve traditional foods to those who could significantly benefit from their healing and comforting effects. ANTHC has long been at the forefront communicating the positive aspects of harvesting and eating traditional foods and advocating for permission to serve them to our patients and visitors at the Alaska Native Medical Center.
In 2013, a bill from former Alaska U.S. Sen. Mark Begich called The Traditional Foods Nourishment Act of 2013 passed, making it easier to serve Alaska Native foods in facilities like hospitals, schools, childcare and eldercare facilities. The ANMC Cafeteria is currently serving a variety of traditional foods to our people who are patients, visiting friends and family of patients or just stopping by to dine.
Inpatients can order a variety of dishes with reindeer or salmon, beach asparagus, fiddlehead ferns, herring eggs, fish pies, a variety of Alaskan berries and even Eskimo ice cream! An ANMC patient recently commented, “I was really impressed with their facility. Their food was excellent. I really liked it. They had some Native traditional foods. That was really impressive.”
People dining in the cafeteria can order fry bread, a number of meals with salmon and reindeer, halibut, cod, and recently, the cafeteria has been featuring a beach asparagus scramble and a fiddlehead fern pizza! The items have been wildly popular and the demand for traditional foods is high.
“Our cooks put their whole heart and soul into the items they are preparing,” said Cynthia Davis, General Manager of NANA Management Services at ANMC, the contractor who operates the cafeteria. “First and foremost, our patients are of our highest priority. They have come here for us to heal them and eating comforting, traditional meals is part of that process.”
While there are a number of traditional foods that our people can order at ANMC, there are still many items that we are not permitted to purchase and serve, but can serve if donated. At the top of our wish list are caribou, moose, seal and whale. These are the proteins that our patients consider comfort food, which are the foods that heal them. If you are interested in donating any of these items, or have questions about traditional foods being served at ANMC, please email NativeFoods4Life@anthc.org.