Approximately 65 low-income elderly Lee County residents rely on Meals on Wheels each week, according to Nicole Forchielli, a senior studying nutrition dietetics. Nicole conducted her Undergraduate Research Fellowship this past summer under the mentorship of Dr. Yee Ming Lee in the College of Human Sciences.
“I got involved volunteering with [Meals on Wheels] and I really loved doing it and getting to know the residents, but I saw a lot of room for improvement,” Nicole said. “I kept that in the back of my mind, but I didn’t have an opportunity to make a lot of impact until I started doing research with Dr. Lee. She’s the one who pushed me to start a project.”
Nicole’s project involved both a quantitative study of the nutritional content of the meals provided to the elderly as well as a qualitative study of resident’s satisfaction with their meals.
“We’re looking at every recipe and breaking it down into its ingredients and nutritional components to make sure that what we’re giving them lines up with what the government says is a guideline for an elderly person,” Nicole said. “Hopefully we can offer better meals and improve what the residents think needs to be improved.”
Photo: Nicole entering Meals on Wheels menu items into a database of nutritional data.