Thorbeckes Nutrition

Thorbeckes Nutrition Director Katia Mora stands next to a cooler that will hold grab-and-go food items at the Chehalis gym. Mora, a Centralia native, joined the staff last fall.

Thorbeckes in Chehalis may soon be able to offer more than a protein bar or hydrating beverage to members looking for a boost before or after working out.

The athletic club recently submitted an application to the city of Chehalis for a food permit allowing it to sell refrigerated food items at the front counter. The application lists an anticipated start date of May 16 and includes a menu listing options ranging from hard boiled eggs and fruit cups to quesadillas and quiche.

Junk food is nowhere to be found on the sample menu. The closest anyone could get to a cheat meal is a breakfast veggie burrito or a turkey sandwich.

“We want to have health-based snacks at our front desk so people can fuel up before or after a workout,” said Efrain Sanchez, general manager of Thorbeckes. “We want it to be quick, easy, grab-and-go type stuff.”

Sanchez credited Nutrition Director Katia Mora for her efforts in pushing to add the fresh food option to the facility. Thorbeckes owner Matthew Noren asked her to take on the fresh food project.

A Centralia Native, Mora joined the Thorbeckes staff last fall following more than two years in a variety of roles with the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the last year of which was spent as a dietetic intern.

Mora studied dietetics along with food and nutritional science at Seattle Pacific University. She graduated in 2017 and relished the opportunity to return home to start the nutrition and dietetic program at Thorbeckes.

“My residency director in Seattle told me for my last rotation that there was an opening at Providence Centralia Hospital and wanted to send me there,” Mora said. “(Sanchez) was a former instructor of mine at Centralia College, and he reached out to say (Thorbeckes) was looking to add a dietitian. I said yes because I always wanted to do something sports related and there are so few nutritionists and dietitians in Lewis County.”

Once tasked with creating the grab-and-go food aspect of Thorbeckes, Mora went in search of options that were natural, met a high-nutrition standard and that the company could purchase at a wholesale price that allowed it to keep it affordable for members.

“It’s hard to do, to get food that is healthy, cheap and comes from a good company,” Mora said. “Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring. I want people to see that nutrition is such an important part of life, and I want to develop that kind of program here.”

Sanchez said the grab-and-go concept will be treated as a trial run at the Chehalis Thorbeckes, with the goal of expanding it to more locations if it is successful.

Mora has been working since the start of the year to establish a foundation for her vision of a broad nutrition and dietetic offering in the Twin Cities and beyond. She hosts regular nutrition talks at Thorbeckes locations that are free to attend and that cover topics such as diets for specific medical conditions.

On her long-term agenda is a desire to reach out to area schools to set up nutritional talks and advocate for healthier meals in schools. She became passionate about the subject after encountering children in Seattle as young as 8 years old who suffered from high cholesterol and hypertension.

“I have so many topics in my head,” Mora said.  “I can’t wait to talk about all of them.”

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