by Brooke Hall
Aug. 30, 2023
Kelley Mikels, a senior in the accelerated BSN program at IU Columbus, is helping dialysis patients eat healthier through meal kits, a cookbook and Free Little Pantry at Major Health Partners (MHP) Shelbyville Hospital.
As part of the quality improvement project for her leadership clinical, Mikels sought to address one of the biggest issues affecting the population she works with: food insecurity. From July 12 until Aug. 16, she led a pilot program where she created and donated a cookbook to 30+ patients at the MHP dialysis clinic. In addition, Mikels and the MHP staff put together meal kits, which they distributed on Wednesdays.
To supplement the meal kits, Kelley’s father, David Mikels, constructed a Free Little Pantry, which they stocked with healthy canned goods. The project grew even more as MHP partnered with the Shelby County mobile farmers market to collect leftover fresh produce for the food pantry.
“We’ve gotten such great feedback,” Kelley said. Patients raved about the pork chop meal kit, as well as her recipes for pancakes and sandwiches. Her cookbook features four breakfasts, four main dishes, and four crockpot recipes that she collected from various sources and revised so they’re compatible with diets for those who are diabetic or have high blood pressure. “A lot of recipes aren’t up to the current dietary standards. We also had to seek out food products that don’t have added salt or sugar.”
Melissa O’Connor, MHP Director of Nephrology and Infectious Disease, said the project is showing clients that tasty, nutritious food doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult to prepare.
“I am beyond proud of our IU Columbus student!” O’Connor added. “She went above and beyond for this project, and I’m hopeful it will be a success and spread throughout our campus.”
The Free Little Pantry resides in the lobby of the Sue Ann Wortman Nephrology Center (2460 Intelliplex Dr., Shelbyville) and is accepting donations of low salt/low sugar canned goods or monetary donations to sponsor pantry items and meal kits.
Kelley Mikels also shares her cookbook with patients at U.S. Renal Care in Greenwood, where she works, and IU Health Methodist, where she’s doing clinicals for her capstone.