The day before my rotation began, I caught up with the interns who already completed their Food & Friends rotation. As we were heading to our cars after class, all I heard was that Food & Friends was a cool place and the preceptor was very passionate about the clients she served. Their feedback left the door open for a lot of experiences, and that is exactly what was dished to me!
A few hours after hitting the door on my first day at Food & Friends, I was on my way to southeast Washington D.C. with one of the staff dietitians, Brandy. We were visiting a client who requested a home visit; she wanted to learn how to eat healthier in an attempt to avoid dialysis. We met with the client for over an hour, during which time Brandy weaved nutrition education with rapport building, all the while addressing the clients questions, lending a compassionate ear to her concerns, and gracefully addressing discrepancies in the client’s recounts. As we drove back to Food & Friends, Brandy asked me to develop PES statements applicable to the client we visited.
My partner, Leigh, and I joined another staff dietitian, Lisa, on her weekly rounds to evaluate kitchen quality control. Using a detailed checklist, we verified that standards in the walk-in refrigerators and freezers, dry storage, blast chiller, and other storage areas were met. Groceries To Go home delivery bags were checked for accuracy.
Leigh and I joined the staff dietitians and met with Mark, Food & Friends’ Executive Chef, to develop meal production schedules for upcoming months. Using the Regular meal plan as a foundation, we altered food selections to accommodate the remaining 10-plus meal plans available to clients. The dietitians’ contributed expertise regarding allowed and prohibited foods, and food appropriateness; Mark contributed culinary expertise focusing on cost, meal production, and kitchen operations. The overall focus was to provide selections appropriate to meet specific dietary requirements. Renal and GI friendly menu selections were most challenging. Of additional focus was ensuring variety in menu selections, across the various meal plans.
During the last week of our rotation, Food & Friends kicked off a Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters class. This effort ran under the leadership of another staff dietitian, Brittany. Leigh and I assisted Brittany by selecting recipes for the first class, and standardizing the recipes for the chef as well as the participants; we created kitchen preparation and shopping lists for the class, and also selected handouts and class activities for the nutrition education component of the class, which we led. Following our rotation, I volunteered cover the next two classes, as it would be two weeks before Maryland interns began another rotation at Food & Friends and I really enjoyed contributing to the efforts of Food & Friends.
A couple Saturdays after our rotation ended, Brandy led a Farmers’ Market tour. I joined Brandy and clients of Food & Friends on a misty, cold Saturday morning at the Ward 8 Farmers’ Market. Benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables were discussed as were nutrients associated with specific vegetables. We talked with local farmers who introduced our clients to vegetables new to them, and shared sure-fire recipes and cooking methods so they could enjoy their new finds. Various universities were represented by student clubs who provided on site cooking demonstrations; we enjoyed the fruits of their labor - yummy warm applesauce and vegetable soup.