Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Food Science and Human Nutrition


Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Sarah L. Francis


Older adults (OA) are at higher nutritional risk (NR) and at risk for foodborne illness. This study assessed the effect of a newsletter-based SNAP-Ed program, Fresh Conversations (FC), on the NR of congregate meal site participants and identified the food safety behaviors placing them at increased risk of foodborne illness. FC is a monthly (30 minutes/month) newsletter-based SNAP-Ed program. Each meal site was assigned to either the treatment group (TREATMENT; n=62 meal sites) or control group (CONTROL; n=19 meal sites). TREATMENT (n=709 participants) received FC, while CONTROL (n=594 participants) did not. All participants (n=1,303) completed at least one questionnaire over three time points (Month 1 [PRE], 5 [MID] and 9 [POST]) during the 9-month study. A total of 354 participants completed a questionnaire at each time point. The questionnaire assessed NR, healthy eating self-efficacy, food safety behaviors, food security and sociodemographic characteristics. Participants were primarily widowed (56.7%), white (95.5%), female (76.8%), age 81+ (43.5%) who rated their health as “good” or “somewhat good” (60.4%). The majority (79.1%) were classified as having “high/marginal” food security. Nearly all (88.3%) were categorized as “at NR” or “at possible NR.” Baseline NR was significantly influenced by age (p <0.01), gender (p<0.05), education (p <0.01), self-reported health status (p <0.01), and self-efficacy (p <0.01). Those attending 4+ sessions of treatment resulted in significantly lower NR than CONTROL (p=0.043) when gender and self-efficacy were controlled. The food safety assessment revealed participants had lower adherence to food safety practices related to temperature control, reading sell-by/use-by dates on food packages, and cross-contamination. Food safety behaviors were significantly (p<0.05) influenced by gender, race, age, education, and marital status. Findings suggest that attendance and baseline healthy eating self-efficacy are important factors that influence NR among congregate meal participants. Additionally, food safety education among congregate meal participants is needed in the areas of temperature control, cross-contamination, and product selection practices.


Copyright Owner

Le Lee Yap



File Format


File Size

94 pages