Halal Meal Options now Offered to Patients at Northern Lights Regional Health Centre

AHS facility the first to offer this menu option in North Zone

FORT McMURRAY– Patients receiving care at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC) are now offered a more comprehensive food services menu that aligns with their dietary preference.

In November 2018, the Alberta Health Services (AHS) facility expanded its patient food services menu to offer Halal meal options, seven days a week.

“This is one example of how we listen to patient feedback. We’re pleased to offer a comprehensive food services menu for our patients. The Northern Lights Regional Health Centre is the first site in the AHS North Zone that currently offers this dietary menu item to patients,” says Murray Crawford, Senior Operating Officer, Area 10.

“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. One of many ways we do that is by offering our patients healthy and nutritious meals that align with their dietary preference.”

“Halal” is an Arabic term in Islam that means “permissible.” The dietary rules of Islam determine accepted Halal food.

Since the November launch, the NLRHC has served more than 100 certified Halal meals.

Jennifer Applin, Manager, Patient Food Services, NLRHC, says this menu option offers a balanced, nutritionally adequate diet without pork and any sources of alcohol. Halal-certified beef and poultry are offered as well as fish and vegan choices to supplement the diet.

A breakfast tray generally includes hot cereal, toast, cheese, milk, juice and a hot beverage. A lunch meal will include soup, crackers, salad, vegan meal – which includes a protein, starch and vegetable – dessert, and a hot beverage. Dinners, which are Halal-certified, include a protein, starch and vegetable, as well as dessert and a hot beverage.

“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. Our AHS Food Services team offers patient-centered care by offering a variety of high quality, diverse food items, that allow patients to make choices based on their individual preferences,” says Applin.

The addition of Halal meal options for patients is welcome news for community members.

“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,” says Mohammed-Ali Al-Zabidi, president, Markaz-Ul Islam, Congregation of Fort McMurray.

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

The inclusion of Halal meal options in the Northern Lights menu illustrates the progressive actions that led the Canadian College of Health Leaders to recently name AHS as their recipient of the 2019 Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion Award

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

Alberta Health Services

Photo submitted Kiran Malik-Khan (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) at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.