North Oakland Drop-In Center

Local partnership combines nutrition education with mental health services.

The North Oakland Drop-In Center mission statement is to provide a safe and supportive environment for mental health consumers to engage in activities, build friendships with peers, empower each other with self-advocacy, dignity and respect, and to access other community resources. Located in Holly, Mich., the North Oakland Drop-In Center received a grant to promote healthier food choices for adults living with various mental illnesses. The center reached out to Michigan State University Extension in Oakland County to provide nutrition education and cooking demonstrations.

MSU Extension provided several workshop presentations for participants at North Oakland Drop-In Center. Conducting an ongoing series to reach the different daily audiences, MSU Extension taught basic nutrition lessons twice a week for four weeks. The workshops included a nutrition lesson and recipe from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved Eating Right is Basic curriculum. Instructors modeled safe practices in food safety, while also performing a cooking demonstration. As a result each participant was able to sample the food, see it prepared and was given a recipe. As an added bonus North Oakland Drop-In Center provided food for each participant to be able to duplicate the recipe at home. Each recipe coincided with the topic lesson that was taught.

For example, when the lesson was based on fruits and vegetables, the recipe shared was sautéed apples and sweet potatoes. Each participant received cinnamon, canned sweet potatoes and an apple. Below is the recipe for you to enjoy.


1 apple sliced up

16 ounce can of sweet potatoes with juice


1 pat of butter

Direction: Place all ingredients into a skillet over medium heat and cook apples until tender, add cinnamon to taste.

Each session on average had 20 participants, each of whom well received the lesson. On the final day the participants expressed their enjoyment with the classes and hoped that the team would come back again. MSU Extension Oakland nutrition staff is scheduled to return to the center in late January (2014) when new program participants are expected to start receiving services.

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