An Icon In Senior Nutrition Retiring After 31 Years Of Service
I have been fortunate to work side-by-side with someone I consider a mentor with a gentle strength. Don’t let her calm, soft-spoken demeanor fool you; she is a force and has been integral to the Chautauqua County Office for Aging Services Senior Nutrition Program for the past 31 years. We want to use this article to share with you a little about the Dietitian who helped make Chautauqua County’s Senior Nutrition Program well-known and respected throughout the state.
Cheryl Wahlstrom had initially wanted to be a veterinarian, but a chance encounter with the former Dietitian for the Office for Aging Services, Donna Rocque, guided Cheryl toward a new career path. Cheryl then graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics in 1981. Upon graduation, she and her newlywed husband, Steve, moved to Miami, Florida where she did an internship and eventually became the Chief Clinical Dietitian at the Miami Heart Institute. While in Miami, Cheryl made many Cuban friends and became fluent in Spanish. Around 1989, she and her husband relocated back to their hometown of Jamestown NY, not only to be closer to family while raising their first of two daughters (Lynn and Sarah), but also for Steve’s job. When back in New York, Cheryl reconnected with her old mentor as she was job searching and found that Donna was retiring. The timing was impeccable as Cheryl stepped into the position she was meant to hold for the next thirty-one years! She always says she had the best job, the best co-workers, and loved the flexible schedule so she could be at home to raise her daughters.
In her role as Dietitian for Office for Aging Services, Cheryl has created the menu for the Meals on Wheels program, monitored the Nutrition Program for food safety, and provided Nutrition Education to various groups and individuals throughout the county. One of Cheryl’s favorite responsibilities was attending luncheon sites throughout the county to monitor meals and provide monthly education because ultimately she enjoyed spending time with the older adults in the community. During her time as lead Dietitian, Cheryl contributed to many innovations, specifically, in the home delivered meals program. Some of these innovations include, improved packaging and delivery systems and a move to lower sodium and Type 2 Diabetes friendly meals. Additionally, she helped initiate one of the first Dining Out Programs in New York State. Not only did these thoughtful improvements bring Chautauqua County’s Senior Nutrition services to the forefront in state services, but they improved the efficiency of the county-wide service, ultimately, allowing more seniors to be served each day.
Outside of her position at the Office for Aging Services, her love of food and nutrition extends into her personal life where she is a Master Gardener and also a Master Canner as she can make great use of the bountiful and beautiful gardens she grows. Her family would also say she is an excellent cook and she would use them as unofficial taste testers when trying out the latest healthy recipe or experimenting in the kitchen. Cheryl is an active member of Lakewood Baptist Church and is a part of the advisory board for a Cuban Outreach foundation, Ancient Path Ministries. She has been on several missions trips to Cuba. Cheryl has always had a love of animals. This love of animals not only was responsible for her meeting her husband, but she also passed her love of animals on to her daughters. Cheryl has actively participated in the local 4-H program for many years. She is also known for her artistic talents. Lastly, Cheryl loves to camp, boat, and travel. During her retirement, she and Steve plan to do a lot of traveling across the US in their new-to-them RV and spending relaxing afternoons on the lake in their new-to-them pontoon boat.
If she has positively impacted your life or a loved ones through her work at the Office for Aging Services, please let her know by sending a note of thanks to: Office for Aging Services, Cheryl Wahlstrom, 7 North Erie St, Hall R. Clothier Building, Mayville, NY 14757.