Volunteer puts love into pureed meals
If you’ve walked into The Bread & Butter Club Kitchen on a Friday morning and wondered where that loud, buzzing sound is coming from, the answer is Kristen Day.
Kristen is a dietetic volunteer, and since last fall she has helped Modified Meals Specialist Logan Lafferty puree meals for Project Angel Heart clients. “I take the food they cook and I puree it so it becomes a pudding-like consistency,” she said. “You want [the food] to be soft, something you can eat with minimal chewing.”
Pureed meals are one of the many modified diets Project Angel Hearts offers. Kristen and other kitchen volunteers specially prepare them each week for clients who have difficulty chewing, swallowing or digesting solid food due to illness.
What inspired Kristen to get involved in nutrition was seeing how food as medicine positively impacted her loved ones dealing with life-threatening illness. For instance, a few years ago her late-grandfather received a visit from a dietitian during a routine dialysis treatment for renal disease. “I just really like the way she talked to him [and] treated him like a person,” Kristen said. “This is the combination of food and science that I’d been looking for, so that’s why I ended up deciding to go back and change my career.”
Before becoming a remote nutrition and dietetic student at the University of Alabama, Kristen was a biochemist for three years, and a personal chef for eight years in Virginia. When she needed some hands-on training as part of her program requirements, a friend introduced her to Project Angel Heart. “I just really enjoyed being here,” she said, “so I stayed.”
Kristen enjoys her role so much that she encourages others to volunteer at Project Angel Heart. She also has some advice: “Be a sponge and absorb from everyone around you because people here are very friendly, they’re very willing to teach, [and] they’re very willing to help out. So as long as you’re willing to listen, you can learn a lot.”
Learn more about volunteering at projectangelheart.org/volunteer.