Meals on Wheels of San Antonio (MOWSA) works hard to provide healthy, home-delivered meals to their clients in Atascosa County. As the Nutrition, Health and Impact Manager for MOWSA, Katlan Akers’ job is to procure the menus that are made culturally appropriate for the demographic they serve. She also conducts nutrition assessments on clients.
“Usually with malnutrition is when I’m going in their home and assessing them. And then, of course, just nutrition education for those with diabetes,” said Akers. “For a kidney patient who’s going through dialysis, I give them tips on how to better handle their diet.”
A Pleasanton native, Akers graduated from Pleasanton High School in 2014. She attended Northwest Vista in San Antonio, then transferred to UTSA where she earned a Bachelor in Nutrition and Master of Dietetic Studies. Akers first became interested in dietetics when her sister was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was young.
“I was very concerned about it. Old enough to be nervous for her being diagnosed with it and then just seeing everything she went through. It was just very obvious there was no nutrition guidance after she was diagnosed and it really made me want to go into dietetics so that people didn’t have any questions when they go through a diagnosis like that,” she said.
Akers came across MOWSA during her last internship, and began her current position as their Nutrition, Health and Impact Manager on June 1 of this year. At the time of this interview in October, Akers was just a few weeks out from taking her board exam to become a credentialed registered dietician.
As a native of Atascosa County, Akers says working for MOWSA and serving clients in her hometown is a full circle moment for her, especially after seeing familiar faces at the Taste of Atascosa a few months back.
“It’s an impact that I have with this job and how great it is to know that I’m able to do that. But then going home and having a table at Taste of Atascosa and seeing people that I knew from my old community, getting this sort of help and, you know, getting healthy meals … it was really a full circle, amazing moment for me,” she said.
Akers mentioned that MOWSA does a range of meals that are appropriate for South Texas. One dish in particular that she said is a favorite in the south, is their cornbread chili bowl. Examples of other meals MOWSA serves clients in Atascosa County include carne guisada, country fried chicken and pico de gallo.
Other MOWSA programs
Akers further explained that MOWSA doesn’t just deliver meals to homes, but they actually do a lot more. MOWSA now does animal meals which is delivering pet food to clients with animals.
“We found out that some of our clients were feeding half of their meals to their animal, and we were like, ‘Oh no, that’s for you, not your animals!’ So the need rose and we addressed it with bringing on a pet food program,” she said.
MOWSA also has a program called friendly visitors, where if a client doesn’t have much social interaction due to health concerns or being homebound, volunteers can make phone calls or send letters to them. Another program called Comfy Casas is for replacing household issues such as a hole in a roof.
“We’ll get someone contracted out there to go and fix it,” said Akers. “It’s kind of just addressing every need that our [clients] need.”
How to volunteer, refer someone in need
MOWSA is currently looking for volunteers from Atascosa County. Volunteers can visit www.mowsatx.org/volunteer or call 210-735-5115 to sign up.
The best way to refer someone or yourself for Meals on Wheels services is to apply online at www.mowsatx.org/referral or call 866-80-MOWSA (866-806-6972). Eligibility for this service is holistic and not solely based on income or age.
The best way to refer someone or yourself for Meals on Wheels services is to apply online at www.mowsatx.org/referral or call (866) 80-MOWSA (866-806-6972). Eligibility for this service is holistic and not solely based on income or age. Those who live in Atascosa or other Texas counties that are unable to cook for themselves, leave their home or drive may be eligible for Meals on Wheels meal delivery service. If someone does not fit this description, but needs assistance, they are encouraged to apply or call. Meals on Wheels knows that every situation is different and evaluates requests case by case.