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Keeping to the Straight and Narrow

Health in a Halfway House


Jody Vogelzang
Department of Allied Health Sciences
Grand Valley State University


This case study tells the story of a group of ten men, recently released from federal penitentiaries, who are housed in a residential reentry center for the remainder of their sentences. Their stay is intended to bridge the gap between incarceration and return to life in the community. Due to the length of time served, the men are poorly skilled in healthy behaviors and self-reliance in the areas of food and activity. Although a work of fiction, the narrative realistically portrays a variety of challenges that the men face including a chronic health issue, menu planning, tight budgets, hunger, boredom, lack of cooking skills, and life without a local supermarket. Innovation, trial and error, and collaboration result in a story of resilience and health behavior change in a sparsely populated area of Northern Michigan. The case was originally developed for a college-level nutrition course, but could also be used in social work, community health, and health education, nursing, and dietetics classes.

  • Search and cite literature.
  • Examine how environment impacts health and health behaviors.
  • Apply food and nutrition concepts to a specialized population.
  • Summarize the potential impacts of social determinants on health in a residential reentry center.
Keywords: nutrition; food safety; food assistance; residential reentry; halfway house; social determinants of health; community health; smoked fish; counting carbs; carbohydrates; Ontonagon
Topical Area: Legal issues, Regulatory issues, Social issues, Social justice issues
Educational Level: Undergraduate lower division, General public & informal education, Continuing education
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Analysis (Issues), Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Sociology   Public Health   Nutrition  
Date Posted: 3/19/2018
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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