NUTRICO (Nutrition and Cooking) Education in Wayne County, Michigan

By Amanda Dawnrich


ISSUE: Lack of transportation, local fresh food options and the perceived expense of fresh foods were stated barriers identified by justice-involved women in a court-mandated rehabilitative setting in Detroit, Michigan in regard to obtaining and consuming fresh foods in their daily diets outside of incarceration. Additional barriers include worrying about wasting money if a product is not liked, and carving out time in the day to get to a store that sells fresh items.


WHAT HAS BEEN DONE: NUTRICO planned and conducted bi-weekly nutrition and cooking demonstrations during the past year (16 total sessions, average attendance of 6-10 individuals per class), in addition to bi-weekly one-on-one simple discussions with residents regarding food and nutrition knowledge prior to incarceration. The cooking demonstrations revolved around utilizing fresh produce to assist in our physical and mental well-being, and the discussions reinforced trust and willingness to communicate likes and dislikes during class times. The presence of NUTRICO within the facility has resulted in residents inquiring at their own will with the facility nutritional providers for additional fresh foods and produce to be offered at meal and snack times.


IMPACT: Program measurement utilizing quantified data analysis revealed that:


  • The residents enjoyed getting to try different items
  • 100% of residents indicated they wish the demonstrations were held more frequently
  • The residents enjoyed how the colors of the fresh foods made them feel
  • The residents learned about the important nutrients in fresh foods
  • The residents learned about introducing fresh foods to their diets
  • The residents would expand the food varieties they will try
  • Barriers outside of incarceration include a lack of transportation to purchase fresh foods in addition to the expense of fresh foods


Additional comments from residents attending the bi-weekly nutrition and cooking demonstrations indicated concepts learned:


  • “Now every time I see lettuce in an ad online, it makes me want to make a salad.”
  • “I like thinking about the nutrients healing my body every time I eat something fresh.”
  • “I am making healthier food choices when I eat snacks.”
  • “I love the fun challenge of trying fresh foods I have never had before. I’ll be less scared to spend my money on something I might not like.”


FUNDING: Albert Schweitzer Fellowship sponsored by Authority Health, Detroit, MI 2022-2023


CONTACT: Dennis Archambault, Vice President Public Affairs, Authority Health, 3031 West Grand Blvd., Suite 601, Detroit, MI, 48202; Phone 313-871-3751; Email


Amanda Dawnrich is an Albert Schweitzer Fellow and a graduate student at Wayne State University School of Social Work.