A partnership between Community enCompass and the Muskegon YMCA is providing nutrition education for adults in Muskegon County. Through the Muskegon Prescribes Food for Health (MPFH) program at Community enCompass, adults gain valuable knowledge and skills surrounding wellness, exercise, and cooking. The Muskegon Y partners with the MPFH program to offer its Cooking Matters classes, which gives participants the opportunity to create nutritious, affordable meals in a group setting. 

Community enCompass began offering their MPFH program as they recognized a need for increased food access and nutrition education, as many areas of Muskegon are considered to be a food desert, meaning some residents do not have access to fresh produce. The MPFH program is offered for adults living with chronic disease, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, in order to support them in making lifestyle changes for better health. The 12-week program consists of six weeks of Nutrition Classes and six weeks of Cooking Matters classes. The program also includes chair yoga classes through Muskegon Yoga as well as medical screenings for participants to increase their awareness of their health and track positive changes that come as a result of the program. 

In partnership with the Grand Rapids YMCA, the Muskegon Y offers a six-week Cooking Matters class, in which participants learn valuable cooking skills, budgeting, and nutrition information, focusing especially on the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables. Participants in the MPFH program partake in Cooking Matters classes in the second half of their program. At the end of each class, they are sent home with a bag of groceries in order to practice the skills they learned and re-create the meals at home. These classes are offered as a part of the broader Cooking Matters national program, which empowers families at risk of hunger with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to make healthy and affordable meals. The partnership between Community enCompass and the Muskegon Y has been ongoing for the past 5 years, with several sessions taking place each week. 

“Coordinating the MPFH program and seeing the incredible impact it can have on participants’ lives has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career,” claims Britany Brown, Food and Farm Education Manager of Community enCompass. “After just a 12 week program, I have seen participants improve their health enough to be taken off diabetes and pain medications. I have seen vast improvements in mobility and diet and our post-surveys indicate, on average, 300% growth in those describing their health as “good” or better. Partnering with the YMCA for the Cooking Matters portion of our programming has led to a 61% increase in the number of vegetables our participants report eating regularly, and everyone is always thrilled with the food choices, instructors and cookbooks they receive. MPFH would not be the same without the YMCA, and we look forward to continuing this relationship for years to come!”

Several MPFH program sessions begin throughout the year. Community enCompass and the Muskegon Y also collaborate on other programs including the Urban Agriculture Club for middle school students as well as Pace Setters, a free community walking program. Both organizations are excited to continue collaborating to build a healthier community in Muskegon. 

About the Muskegon YMCA The Muskegon YMCA has been committed to building a healthier future for the community for over 100 years. The Muskegon Y is focused on empowering cancer survivors, fighting food insecurity, providing equity in education and childcare, and ensuring safe environments for children to grow and thrive. During the pandemic, the Muskegon Y offered resources to the community by extending their food service program, structuring healthy out of school time for children, and offering virtual gym memberships. Visit muskegonymca.org for more information.

About Community enCompass Community enCompass was born from strong grass-roots community partnerships, dedicated community organizing, and a strong commitment to the residents of Downtown Muskegon neighborhoods in 2008. The mission of Community enCompass is to empower, uplift, and build stronger communities in the Downtown Muskegon neighborhoods through restorative and transformative impact. We envision a restored neighborhood where the God-given assets of our neighbors are identified and leveraged towards enriching our community.