Provided by Kristen Keith, Dietetic Intern
University of Texas at San Antonio
My name is Kristen Keith and I am a student in the Coordinated Program in Dietetics at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Over the course of this program I have had countless opportunities to learn, grow, and better myself as an individual and as a curious student. My time here at Meals on Wheels, San Antonio has made Fall 2016 one of the most impactful experiences of my dietetic career, and my life in its entirety.
I remember learning that Meals on Wheels San Antonio would be my site; I was over-the-moon excited to work with an organization that has such a lasting impact on the older adult community. Any chance that I can get, I make my presentations and projects on my grandfather, Carl Keith. The older adult population is near and dear to my heart, so the opportunity to impact their nutrition was incredibly exciting. Knowing that they would be my target population for the semester genuinely gave me so much fulfillment, purpose, and the determination and motivation to do my best work.
My activities this semester were diverse and eye-opening. Rhaizza Velasquez, my preceptor and the Registered Dietitian for Meals on Wheels, helped me understand the intricacies of large-scale menu planning. There are special diets, food preferences, and ease of preparation factors to keep in mind when crafting the perfect healthy menu for approximately 3,600 clients. Rhaizza makes it look easy! She has taught me that you can make a delicious and healthy meal for any person on any diet. We would search and search for the perfect recipe to add to the menu for the month. Once we would find a recipe, the modification process could begin. We would start to modify the recipe in order for it to be healthy for renal, gluten free, diabetic/heart healthy, bland, and other clients’ dietary needs.
Not only did I get a front row seat to observing the menu process, but I also experienced a taste of the other operations at Meals on Wheels. I traveled to clients’ houses with a case worker, observed the special diet preparation with Chef Mary, delivered meals with Monica, presented to companionship services training attendees, observed food service meetings with the manager Vince, wrote a holiday themed blog, conducted a community needs assessment project, implemented supplement changes, and observed the cooking process bright and early at 4:00am. Every single person I came into contact with at Meals on Wheels impacted my learning in numerous ways and angles. Not only did I learn more about community nutrition, but I gained more knowledge about the impact of community services on our population.
I look forward to applying the semester’s lessons to my future coursework and time in the professional workforce. Learning from all of the wonderful and dedicated Meals on Wheels employees has been, and will always be, an integral part of my success as a dietetic student.