Long before earning a Bachelor’s degree in dietetics and Master’s degree in human and nutritional sciences, Mindy knew she wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. As a child, she’d crawl out of bed and turn on the TV when she couldn’t fall asleep, watching commercials for nonprofits providing food to children or medical care to those in need. Years later, two of her grandparents were diagnosed with cancer, and Mindy started learning about their unique dietary needs.
“What confirmed my career path was volunteering with my church to serve those in need," explained Mindy. "Then, when working as a dietary aide at a nursing home during college, I learned most medical diagnoses are somehow affected by nutrition. Our lives revolve around food, and it’s a comfort to a lot of people.” Both experience showed Mindy how she wanted to use food to help others.
Then, a college internship directed her toward serving older adults. “Through this experience, I learned I like spending time with seniors and learning about their life experiences and pasts. I never get bored, and there’s always a new story to hear,” said Mindy. “My internship showed me how I wanted to use food, something I’ve always loved, to help people.”
Mindy knows just how helpful food can be, especially to older adults. More than 65 percent of seniors are either at risk for malnutrition or experiencing a form of malnutrition. Shockingly, this increases chances of mortality by half. While part of her job involves diagnosing malnutrition in incoming patients, Mindy also gets to use food to help them heal.
Working primarily with memory care patients in the transitional care unit or long-term care, Mindy specializes in tube feeding. She also schedules tasks to a team of dietitians as needed and meets with patients and families. As a dietitian, Mindy works closely with chefs and other culinary team members. Together, they plan seasonal menus that meet certain requirements and recommendations while offering delicious meals to residents and patients.
“My goal is to comfort as many people as possible, and it’s an honor to be involved in someone’s life,” Mindy said. “I love being able to offer food that truly nourishes people and seeing their reactions when they get something they truly enjoy.”