Food is much more than fuel for the body. Food brings us together, brings back memories and brings us hope. Food is tradition. Eating the foods we are familiar with is both nourishing and nurturing.
As the food service provider for the Alaska Native Medical Center (ANMC), bringing traditional foods to the patient menu has become a mission for NMS. Now, when NANA Elders and fellow residents of the NANA region find themselves as patients at ANMC, they can request favorite foods from the menu, such as caribou, salmon, berries, and, most recently, herring eggs.
Offering traditional foods on the patient menu requires approval from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for each individual food. However, obtaining approval is a long, multi-step process. There must be established methods for collection, processing, preserving and distributing the traditional foods before the foods ever reach the hospital menu. It is through the initiative of the NMS team working at ANMC that traditional foods are now offered on the patient menu. The NMS team worked arduously to obtain the required government certifications and approvals in order to serve the traditional foods the Elders and their families’ prefer.
“NMS is truly dedicated to increasing the number of traditional foods we serve our patients and guests,” says Robin Wade, director of food services for NMS healthcare accounts. “Traditional foods are an important element of the healing process, and the entire NMS team is passionate about bringing these familiar foods to our Alaska Native patients. Having the foods they know and enjoy available to them during their stay here at ANMC is comforting, and critical to their overall well-being.”
NMS is continuing to advocate for the traditional foods served at ANMC and is seeking to expand the list of traditional foods they are able to offer on the menu.