Tomah Health developed picture menu for Afghan guests

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s exactly what Tomah Health director of nutrition services and registered dietitian Michelle Lindsay thought when she developed a four-page illustrated menu to assist Afghan guests cared for at Tomah Health.

Hundreds of Afghan guests were cared for at Tomah Health earlier this year as part of “Task Force McCoy”, which oversees temporary shelter and support services for the approximately 12,600 Afghans relocated at the nearby Fort McCoy military camp.

Lindsay, with the help of the hospital’s marketing department, created an illustrated menu to assist Afghans ordering food to the hospital cafeteria during their hospital stay.

“The room service menu has helped eliminate the possibility of culturally inappropriate meals served to this special population, nurses assist patients with meals in a culturally sensitive manner, and increase oral intake to reduce hospital-acquired malnutrition,” Lindsay said.

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He said nutritional services staff also develop recipes and food items that welcome guests. “It was a labor of love that created some challenges, but the end result was really a way to give them a taste of home,” Lindsay added.

Some of the foods include walnut soup (letee), a traditional postpartum soup; Afghan kidney bean curry (lubya); qabili palau, an aromatic rice dish that is the Afghan national dish; naan; basmati rice; and some culturally appropriate snacks.

The nutrition service project was discussed in a roundtable discussion hosted by Tomah Health on Sept. 23, Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Shared with Pritesh Gandhi. Gandhi praised local medical staff for “leaning backwards” to care for Afghan guests.

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The menu project was highlighted in a recent report by the Wisconsin Hospital Association that shows the many ways hospitals give back to the communities they serve.

“As vital members of the communities we serve, the publication of this important report underlines that the services provided by Wisconsin hospitals are not limited to patient care,” said Eric Borgerding, WHA president and CEO. “The 2022 Community Benefit Report offers an important reminder that hospitals continue to stand by people when no one else is. Even when a service loses money or no revenue, or when hospitals lose hundreds of millions of dollars to Medicaid patients, uninsured and no one will help. Wisconsin hospitals and healthcare systems are constantly doing their part and providing important services to their communities every minute of every hour of every day.”

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The benefit report revealed that nonprofit hospitals in Wisconsin collectively delivered approximately $2 billion in community benefits in fiscal year 2021. The report also highlighted individual hospital stories about charity care, workforce, COVID-19 efforts, health equity and hospital-sponsored initiatives. The full report, along with an interactive map of community benefit stories organized by district and hospital name, is available online at

Afghan refugees in Fort McCoy share their evacuation stories via FOX6 news.


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