There’s a traditional foods movement happening in Alaska. Dieticians, administrators, and others are trying to get more wild foods like moose, berries, and beach greens into health care facilities and schools. But there’s one food that elders really, really want, and they aren’t allowed to have: seal oil.
Most people in northwest Alaska grew up eating traditional foods, like caribou, seal, and different kinds of fish. But as they aged and moved into long-term care facilities, those foods were no longer regularly available to them because of federal food safety regulations. A team in Kotzebue is changing that.
Petersburg Borough Assembly heard Monday from mostly supporters of proposals to charge two new fees in the borough. One would be an administrative fee for senior citizens who apply for an exemption from local sales tax. Another would be a fee on cruise ship passengers visiting the area.
Shirley and Tom Clements’ home is steeped in memories. Photos going back six generations cover the walls of the packed living room. Knick-knacks and animal figurines fill shelves above the kitchen sink. They’ve been in the house for more than 20 years.
In many parts of Alaska, seniors have trouble accessing proper medical care and finding doctors who accept Medicare. Organizations across the state are working to solve the issue but meanwhile others are trying to make the need less pressing by focusing on prevention.