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Community Connections Cooking Up at The Gathering Place

farm-to-table, Find Local Food, Local Ingredients, Marissa Natzke, Stories

Senior Resources in Benzie County is committing to the community they serve in new ways. The Gathering Place is working with Taste the Local Difference to improve mealtime at their center. Thanks to funds from the Building Healthy Communities grant, this partnership is catering meals to meet nutritional needs of older adults while simultaneously incorporating more fresh, local produce into meal time.

So what do we mean by nutritional needs of older adults? Chronic diseases like heart disease become an increasing concern as we age, and the nutrients we put into our bodies can either contribute to or reduce our risk. Sodium and potassium are two of these nutrients. High sodium diets can increase blood pressure, risk of hypertension, and heart disease. On the other hand, potassium can help offset the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Therefore, some menu items were altered to lower sodium and raise potassium content. Sodium is commonly high in processed foods and seasonings while potassium is high in fruits and vegetables. This means these changes are also raising the content of other important nutrients such as fiber. It’s a win-win!

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Greens grown at Grow Benzie

And what about local produce? The Gathering Place is purchasing salad greens from Grow Benzie and other local items from Cherry Capital Foods. By sourcing local goods, the Gathering Place  is supporting the local economy and providing fresh produce for their daily meals. This act of buying high quality produce for seniors is particularly important. Due to mobility, income, and access challenges, seniors are vulnerable to food insecurity. Serving high quality, healthy meals fills bellies with nutrients and sends a message that everyone deserves access to good food. In other words, The Gathering Place is empowering seniors and encouraging long term food systems change by supporting local agriculture.

But what about taste? Even though we want to serve up healthy, fresh meals, we also need them to taste good and be acceptable. So, on July 13th, we’ll be taste testing some new recipes and local produce with the folks at The Gathering Place. Afterward, they’ll be able to find the new offerings highlighted in their monthly menu.

If you find yourself in Honor, Benzie County, stop into the Gathering Place, they are open Monday-Friday from 8:00am to 4:00pm and lunch is served from 11:30am to 1:00pm, they frequently say “You are only a stranger once” and for the suggested donation of $4 if you are age 60 or older and $7.50 if you are under 60, good nutrition is waiting for you.  

The Gathering Place, 10579 Main Street, Platte River, MI

Marissa is TLD’s Health Intern this summer. As such, she is working to better understand the role local food has on community health through CSA worksite wellness and BHC initiatives. She is currently pursuing her Master of Public Health and Dietetics at the University of Michigan. Contact her marissa@localdifference.org.

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