Meals on Wheels of San Antonio (MOWSA) strives to provide healthy, home-delivered meals to its customers in Atascosa County. As the Nutrition, Health and Impact Officer for MOWSA, Katlan Ackers’ job is to provide culturally appropriate menus to the population they serve. She also performs nutritional assessments on clients.
“Usually malnutrition is when I go to their house and assess them. And then, of course, just nutritional education for diabetics, ”Ackers said. “For a kidney patient who is undergoing dialysis, I give him advice on how to better manage his diet. “
A native of Pleasanton, Ackers graduated from Pleasanton High School in 2014. She attended Northwest Vista in San Antonio, then transferred to UTSA where she received her Masters in Coordinated Dietetics Program, a combination of a bachelor’s and master’s degrees. With a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics and a master’s degree in dietetics, Ackers first became interested in dietetics when her sister was diagnosed with celiac disease when she was young.
“I was very worried about it. Old enough to be nervous about being diagnosed with it and then seeing everything she’s been through. It was very obvious that there was no post-diagnosis nutritional counseling and it really made me want to get into dietetics so people wouldn’t have any questions when they undergo a diagnosis like this- there, ”she said.
Ackers met MOWSA during his last internship and began his current role as Head of Nutrition, Health and Impact on June 1 of this year. At the time of this interview in October, Ackers was only weeks away from taking her exam to become a registered dietitian.
As a native of Atascosa County, Ackers says working for MOWSA and serving clients in her hometown is a looping moment for her, especially after seeing familiar faces at Taste of Atascosa a few months ago.
“It’s an impact that I have with this job and how great it is to know that I am able to do it. But then come home and have a table at Taste of Atascosa and see people I knew from my old community, get that kind of help and, you know, have healthy meals … it was really a full circle, an amazing time for me, ”she said.
Ackers mentioned that MOWSA offers a range of South Texas meals. One dish in particular that she says is a favorite in the South is their Cornbread Chili Bowl. Other dishes that MOWSA serves to customers in Atascosa County include carne guisada, country fried chicken, and pico de gallo.
Other MOWSA programs
Ackers further explained that MOWSA doesn’t just deliver meals to your doorstep, but much more. MOWSA now prepares animal meals and delivers pet food to customers with animals.
“We found out that some of our customers gave their pets half of their meals, and we were like, ‘Oh no, this is for you, not your pets! “So the need grew and we responded by setting up a pet feeding program,” she said.
MOWSA also has a program called Friendly Visitors, where if a client doesn’t have a lot of social interactions due to health issues or being housebound, volunteers can make phone calls or send them letters. Another program called Comfy Casas is intended to replace household problems such as a hole in a roof.
“We’ll have someone go and fix it under contract,” Ackers said. “In a way, it is meeting all the needs 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 register.
The best way to recommend yourself or someone 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 is not based solely on income or age.
The best way to recommend yourself or someone 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 is not based solely on income or age. Those who live in Atascosa or other Texas counties who cannot cook on their own, leave their homes, or drive may be eligible for the Meals on Wheels meal delivery service. If someone does not fit this description, but needs help, they are encouraged to apply or call. Meals on Wheels knows that every situation is different and assesses requests on a case-by-case basis.