Traverse House Gets Juicy

August 5, 2016 | |

Traverse House Clubhouse is a supportive space for members of our community who face mental health issues. Whether one is looking for a job, needs day-to-day assistance or even food, it’s a safe place to go for a warm meal and sense of family.

Since 1988, Traverse House has been operating as one of several “Clubhouses” around Michigan, which are “community-based psychosocial rehab programs for people with a severe and persistent mental illness.”

The Clubhouse prides itself with its open door policy and the attitude, “once a member, always a member”. Its members play an integral role in everyday club operations. And, it’s even open during Holidays.

 “This is my family,” says Sandy, a long-time member of Traverse House.  

It’s the delicious, low-cost meals that draw members into Traverse House daily. Free fruits and veggies are available to enjoy in the café or take home and members can purchase a well-rounded lunch for just $1.50.

With members visiting daily for meals and pantry offerings, there is ample opportunity to provide quality nutrition and health education on a consistent basis. And, it makes Traverse House a great choice for the 2016 “Building Healthy Communities” grant through Taste the Local Difference®.

Cheryl Askwith, Support Coordinator for Traverse House, has been a champion in implementing healthy food service guidelines as necessitated by the grant. Through this grant, the Traverse House will receive a stipend to support the implementation of healthier guidelines through education, promotion and policy change.

The grant also helps Traverse House focus on sodium reduction and increasing accessibility of seasonal fruits and vegetables to its members. Along with club members, Ms. Askwith assessed all the spices and seasoning packets for sodium content. Finding the spices to be outrageous in sodium content, this became a great educational opportunity and pivotal moment for healthy change. High sodium spices are being phased out and lower sodium alternatives are to be purchased for use in food service.

Traverse House has also partnered with a local nutritionist to sustain the momentum of eating healthier foods through education and demonstrations. The nutritionist provides interactive education on diabetes, trans fat and healthier beverages. A Ninja juicer has been utilized in healthy food demonstrations to transform donated fruits and vegetables into a high fiber 100% juice available free to members. Traverse House members love the watermelon lemonade, “peach melba” and cantaloupe/honeydew juice!

Future healthy food upgrades include:

  • An updated salad bar;
  • A dehydrator for making low-sodium herbs and spice mixes;
  • And, fun colorful signs promoting local fruits and vegetables.

Dedicated champions, like Cheryl Askwith, who are committed to improving lives through whole foods nutrition, are truly Building Healthy Communities. Taste the Local Difference® is proud to work with passionate individuals to foster change while allowing our sites the financial means to tackle meaningful projects.

About the Author

Suzie Genyk is the Building Healthy Communities Site Coordinator for Taste the Local Difference® 

Learn more about the Building Healthy Communities grant program here.

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