Recognizing our Dietitians on Registered Dietitian Day

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 is Registered Dietitian Day, created by the American Dietetic Association. Today is a day to recognize and celebrate the commitment of RDs across the nation. Their efforts go a long way in improving the health, nutrition, and quality of life for their clients. Here at Moveable Feast, we have a great team of three dietitians. Jinee Burdg, Sara McClean, and Betty Simon-Ogan are committed to helping our clients on an individualized basis.

Sara, Betty, and Jinee

March is also National Nutrition Month, themed this year as “Eat Right With Color.” Our dietitians this month are encouraging and helping clients find colorful fruits and vegetables that are easily integrated into their diets.

Each year, Moveable Feast services more than two thousand Marylanders living with HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and other conditions. Health complications, poverty, and other circumstances often push proper nutrition out of reach for our clients. Our clients may be too weak to make trips to the supermarket or to even prepare meals at home alone. Clients may manage multiple diseases at once, potentially pose conflicting and stringent dietary requirements. And when money is tight, eating right may simply be too expensive. That’s where Moveable Feast steps in. Our nutritious meals and groceries enable our clients to become healthier and thus better equipped to overcome their illnesses.

And the efforts of our excellent dietitian team are visible in every aspect of Moveable Feast services. Supervisory dietitian Jinee Burdg and chef Damon Hersh work together to carefully construct menus for different client populations. This can get quite complicated! Some clients have special dietary needs due to their medical history, such as diabetes, renal failure, lactose-intolerance, or insufficient teeth (requiring a soft-foods diet). Clients who have extremely low body weight are put on our high protein diet, which helps them to gain weight quickly. We also serve clients of varying religious or philosophical beliefs, who may choose a vegetarian, non-pork, no-seafood, or all-seafood diet. We even offer a Buena Comida meal plan, designed to be more Latin-friendly.

It’s easy to see that designing the perfect menu takes meticulous and careful effort. Jinee and Damon collaborate closely to come up with the most nutritious menu possible. For instance, Damon composes the general menus for the frozen meals, which are used in our Daily Home Delivered Meals program, Groceries-To-Go/Meals For A Week program, and also “dropped” at community centers in Baltimore. Jinee evaluates the menus, making comments and substitutions for different client populations, using her dietetic expertise.

Part of the evaluation includes a nutrient analysis on the menus. The dietitians look at the amount of calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamin D, potassium, phosphorus, and sodium in the meals, among other nutrients. Sodium, or salt, levels are especially important when evaluating the renal menus. And vitamin D is thought to be important in fighting HIV.

Yet Jinee, Sara, and Betty are never confined to the offices at Moveable Feast. Each week, they make home visits all across Maryland to visit clients one-on-one in a free nutritional counseling appointment. Each client benefits from a home visit one or two times a year, though appointments can be more frequent if more in-depth assessment is vital. Each home visit kicks off with the simple question of “what did you have to eat yesterday?” and then delves into a thoughtful conversation about the client’s eating habits. The dietitian takes the client’s weight, and also performs a quick BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis), which is used in a useful body fat analysis. Afterwards, the client works with the dietitian to set nutrition goals, and even receives personalized diet advice.

Yet home visits mean so much more to our clients than simply a routine nutritional appointment. Many clients lead isolated lives, and our dietitians may be the only people they interact with that day. By sharing stories and enjoying conversation with our dietitians, our clients are happier people. And by enabling them to take control of their health through their eating habits, our clients feel more empowered to fight their illness. It is truly in these home visits that our dietitians embody the Moveable Feast mission – to feed people, fight disease, and foster hope.

For more information about Moveable Feast meal delivery and nutritional counseling services, please visit our website.

For more information about National Nutrition Month and Registered Dietitian Day, please visit the American Dietetic Association website

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