Donating hunted and gathered foods to ANMCAugust 22, 2019
For years, Alaska Native leaders negotiated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for permission to serve traditional foods to those who benefit from their healing and comforting effects. Healthy eating is one of the building blocks for a healthy life. ANTHC’s Tribal leadership has helped place traditional foods in a prominent place in our health care and services. ANTHC has long been at the forefront of advocating for the positive aspects of harvesting and eating traditional foods – and permission to serve them to our patients at the Alaska Native Medical Center.
In 2013, a bill from former Alaska U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, named the “The Traditional Foods Nourishment Act of 2013” passed, making it easier to serve Alaska Native foods in facilities like hospitals, schools, child care and Elder care facilities.
The ANMC Cafeteria serves a variety of traditional foods to our people who are inpatient at the hospital. 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. Over 60% of ANMC’s inpatient menu includes traditional ingredients.
Traditional Alaska Native foods are what our patients consider comfort food – the foods that heal them. ANMC Executive Chef Amy Foote sees the power of traditional foods every day.
“Providing a taste of home is critical in the healing process,” said Amy Foote, Senior Area Executive Chef at ANMC. “We see patients relax and share stories of a time when they were well, out harvesting and spending time with loved ones. Traditional foods heal our patients – for them, they are comfort, they are healing, they are home.”
While there are a number of traditional foods that our inpatients can order at ANMC, there are still many items that we are not permitted to purchase and serve, but can serve if donated. In recent years, ANMC received many donations of traditional foods from local hunters and gatherers to serve to our inpatients. Some of the items donated include moose meat, herring eggs, sheefish, hooligan, fiddlehead ferns, berries, seal meat and deer meat.
ANMC can accept most wild game meat and bones (caribou, moose, deer, sheep, goat and beaver) following these guidelines: must be whole, quartered, or roasts; meat cannot be ground; most fish and seafood: must be gutted and gilled, with or without heads; seal meat and fat; and plants and berries: whole, fresh or frozen. Items may not be vacuum sealed.
If you are interested in donating any of these items, or have questions about traditional foods being served at ANMC, please call (907) 729-2682 or email NativeFoods4Life@anthc.org.