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Expanded food services a major milestone for community needs

Last Updated Apr 30, 2019 at 5:37 pm MST

Kiran Malik-Khan (from left, Northern Lights Health Foundation Board Member, and communications director for Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council Fort McMurray chapter), Jennifer Applin (Manager, Patient Food Services, NLRHC), Murray Crawford (Senior Operating Officer, Area 10), Kathy Clarke (Food Services Supervisor, NLRHC) and Mohammed-Ali Al-Zabidi (president, Markaz Ul Islam, Congregation of Fort McMurray) announce the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre is expanding their food services for Muslim and vegetarian/vegan patients. Photo supplied by Logan Clow, AHS Communications.

Announcing a first for the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC) and Alberta Health Services (AHS).

Halal meal options are now available for those in patient care.

Patients at the NLRHC can benefit from food services that also aligns with their individual diets.

Senior Operating Officer for Area 10, Murray Crawford said the health facility is the first in the AHS North Zone to provide the service.

“We recognize that Fort McMurray and the region is home to a sizeable Muslim population. This menu option reflects our ongoing efforts and commitment in supporting the diverse needs of our patients and community, and it’s important to us that our patients are comfortable while they receive the care they need here.” 

The NLRHC first implemented Halal meal options in November 2018.

President of the Markaz-Ul Islam Congregation of Fort McMurray, Mohammed-Ali Al-Zabidi, says this is welcome news.

“With the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre now offering Halal meal options for patients, it truly represents a milestone celebrating how inclusive our community is.”

Meal options

The term “Halal” is Arabic for “permissable”.

So far, the NLRHC served at least 100 certified Halal meals to their patients.

Manager of Patient Food Services, Jennifer Applin, says these balanced meals are without pork or any sources of alcohol.

Also, they can include certified beef, poultry, fish, and vegetarian or vegan choices.

“In addition to offering Halal meal options to patients, we also offer a vegetarian diet. On average, we serve about 235 vegetarian meals per month.”

Applin says AHS Food Services’ focus is “patient first” when it comes to providing high quality and diverse food items.

Breakfast usually includes hot cereal, toast, cheese, milk, and juice.

Whereas, lunch features soup, crackers, salad, a vegan meal consisting of protein, starch and vegetable, and dessert.

Finally, dinners are also Halal-certified.

All meals include a hot beverage as well.

“This is how you build and strengthen a community, and champion diversity.” Says Kiran Malik-Khan, Northern Lights Health Foundation Board Member, and communications director for Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC) in Fort McMurray, “This launch is a major milestone, and a much-awaited community need.”

Facts and figures

  • The Canadian College of Health Leaders named AHS as their recipient of the 2019 Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Award.
  • At the time of this article, the expanded menu options will enter its seventh month at the NLRHC.