The year was 1979, exactly forty years ago I graduated college with a degree in English. There were no jobs that perked my interest, so taking the summer off to travel and think about life seemed like a sensible idea. A close friend said, “Hey Les, you love food why don’t you become a Dietitian.” Dietitian, I replied, “I never thought of that as a career.” Two years later, I graduated from New York University with a Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.
When I became a registered Dietitian, I never thought one day I would be the Director of Nutrition Services for the JASA senior services agency. To this day, I have never regretted the decision I made all those years ago to become a Dietitian.
For the last twenty-five years as the Director of Nutrition I have been in charge of providing 1,300,000 hot lunches daily each year to New York City seniors at twenty-two senior centers and three large home delivered meals contracts (formerly called Meals on Wheels).
Each weekday our drivers take out twenty delivery trucks filled with meals and check on New York’s frail seniors. They deliver hot, chilled, or frozen meals to seniors living in houses and apartments in the boroughs.
At our centers, seniors enjoy activities like chair aerobics, computer classes, and of course a hot tasty lunch. Our services are paid for by New York City levied tax dollars and philanthropic contributions.
I have found it is essential to surround yourself with colleagues who share a common mission. People who come to work and want to make a difference in the world around them.
The board members of AHF-NY and its members share this mission. Three hundred sixty-five days a year and in all kinds of weather they make it into work. In our industry, you need to show up to make sure each senior is supported and nourished every day.
To excel in nutrition and dietetics you need to work closely with administrators, managers, staff, patients, residents, and families. You need to build a sense of community as you work together using the “team approach.”
I am proud to be a member of AHF-NY. To quote Billy Joel,” Do what you love, and you’ll always love what you do.”