By Jessica Tupa, Intern
It is true what they say: our lives are a series of choices that lead us to where we are meant to be today. My path lead me to have the good fortune of having the opportunity to intern at Meals on Wheels in the Spring of 2018.
I heard about Meals on Wheels helping senior citizens in the community, but I never really knew what exactly it is they did until my classes started this semester. My first day was a blur, but in a good way, and this is because there was a wealth of information to learn. It amazed me at how each department really leans on each other to function.
For example, if a certain food item is chosen by the dietitian, it can have an impact on how the drivers need to pack it to be delivered to the clients. If this food item is negatively affecting the way drivers deliver the meals, like taking up too much space as an example, then the dietitian needs to re-visit the meal plan, and maybe find a feasible substitute for this meal item that has comparable nutrients.
This may seem like a minute detail, but it is because Meals on Wheels focuses on every little detail such as these, that shows me how important it is for us to care for and nourish our seniors.
We have so much potential to improve their quality of life, and it all can start with how they are being fed. This might be such a simple way to look at things, but when I reflect on my own life, I know I like to eat delicious and healthy food myself, and Meals on Wheels taught me that it is possible and very important to create meals with this kind of quality.
It is just the simple humanity they portray each and every day so that they can feed a large segment of our population, which has inspired me to continue my journey in becoming a dietitian with this spirit in my heart.
I was in awe of the strong teamwork at Meals on Wheels, and especially in awe of the strong working relationship the dietitian and kitchen manager. They are in constant communication, and they listen to each other with respect, patience, and work together towards solutions every day. Their purpose is to serve their clients in the best way possible. It is not only this strong relationship, but the strong teamwork that goes on in the kitchen every day. If a kitchen teammate is out, we all stepped up to cover the work that needed to be done, even the drivers. I learned how a workplace environment should be, and that I would like to model any future team I have after the team at Meals on Wheels.
The dietitian and kitchen manager took the time each week to ensure I learned my competencies well and thoroughly. They were always positive, upbeat, and welcoming to me no matter if there was a long list of other tasks they had to complete outside of being my preceptors. They simply seem like they are always enjoying themselves.
My favorite part of interning at Meals on Wheels was getting to interact with and meet some of the clients. They were always so grateful with a smile on their face, and so receptive to meeting me, and I know that had to do with the fact that I was associated with Meals on Wheels. Just that in itself showed me results of the great work this amazing organization is doing. I know many of the clients go through hardships every day, but their attitude and outlook on everything has been a constant reminder to count my blessings any time something tough comes along.
I can honestly say I never pictured myself in a food service environment before I interned at Meals on Wheels, but after having enjoyed myself so much and really understanding the impact we can have on the community as dietitians, I know now that I would love to have the honor of working in an organization such as this someday.