University of the Incarnate Word
A View from The Outside
My name is Kali and I’m currently finishing up my bachelor’s degree in dietetics/nutrition at the University of the Incarnate Word. Before graduation, nutrition students need to have a total of 60 practice hours at a local site in San Antonio to get outside experience in the dietetic field.
I’m currently doing my practice hours at Meals on Wheels with Registered Dietitian, Tiffany Batsakis. In the short time I have been here, I’ve learned a lot about Meals on Wheels and everything that is put into menu planning, meal preparation, and delivery.
Each month a menu is made for every day of the week. Tiffany showed me all the thought and work that goes into each meal for that week’s menu. Providing senior citizens a variety of main course dishes, sides, desserts and drinks can become very complicated and time consuming. These senior citizens are receiving meals that are meeting the daily recommended intakes (DRI’s) of calories, carbohydrates, protein, sodium, potassium, and other minerals and nutrients. After these requirements are set, Tiffany makes 5 more menus for special clients that need certain diets like gluten free, diabetic/heart healthy, renal, puree and also a bland diet. Once these menus are finalized with nutritional analysis (meeting requirements), altering the special menus to fit the criteria, and menu meetings with the kitchen staff, they are sent off to the kitchen for production.
One morning I helped the kitchen staff prepare over 3,000 meals! It was a great environment, atmosphere, and was very fast paced. To complete over 3,000 meals in a very small kitchen is very difficult at times, but Meals on Wheels has it down to an art. The chefs continually make the meal for the day all morning and the assembly line was where the staff and I filled up the food wells, sealing them, and sending them off to the delivery drivers for a hot delivery.
Driving with the drivers was quite the experience as well. My area one day involved traveling on the west side of town and I was taught how Meals on Wheels delivers each meal to each citizen. Having a route of 60+ deliveries demands a fast pace.
All in all, it was a great experience seeing a registered dietitian in action and pulling off the largest meal prep for a variety of people with different needs and then ensuring on time delivery. This puts a whole new label on kitchen duty and crazy fast delivery!