Date of Award
Master of Science
Food Science and Human Nutrition
Nutritional Sciences ( Human Nutrition )
Ruth E. Litchfield
Individuals and families with limited resources are at increased risk for nutrition-related chronic diseases and other adverse health outcomes. Further, the pandemic caused by the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has contributed to spikes in food insecurity and unemployment thus increasing the demand for nutrition assistance programs like the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). The pandemic further emphasizes the need for regular program evaluation of EFNEP and SNAP-Ed to provide relevant resources and programming that meet desired outcomes. The goal of the EFNEP and SNAP-Ed programming is to improve food, nutrition, and physical activity behaviors among participants. Part one of this study examined the impact of the Buy. Eat. Live Healthy. (BELH) and the Plan Shop Save Cook (PSSC) programs on participants’ food- and nutrition-related behavior outcomes, including total diet quality, physical activity, food safety, food security, and food resource management. Program graduates (n=92 BELH, n=42 PSSC) completed a pre-/post-program survey. Paired samples t-tests, independent samples t-tests, and one-way ANOVA analyses were conducted using SPSS (IBM SPSS v26). Part two of this study entailed a qualitative evaluation of the PSSC program using structured observations and a focus group discussion. Two structured observations of one nutrition education lesson (Lesson 2 “Using Food Labels”) and one focus group discussion among PSSC participants (n=6) was conducted. The focus group recording was transcribed verbatim and reviewed by four members of the research team using thematic analysis. Both BELH and PSSC displayed significant change in food- and nutrition-related behaviors. Specifically, BELH curriculum exhibited significant (p<0.05) improvements from pre- to post-program in all food resource management questions, including cooking main meal at home, comparing food prices to save money, planning meals before shopping, looking in cupboards and refrigerator before shopping, and making a list before shopping. In contrast, the PSSC curriculum displayed significant (p<0.05) improvement from pre- to post-program in just three out of five food resource management questions, including comparing food prices to save money, planning meals before shopping, and making a list before shopping. A comparison of behavior change between curricula suggests the BELH curriculum (nine lessons) led to more improvement (p<0.05) in diet quality, physical activity, food safety, food security change than the PSSC curriculum (four lessons). However, there was no significant difference in the amount of behavior change in food resource management between the two curricula. Thirteen common themes were identified from the focus group discussion with Reading labels being the most common. The structured observations found lower curriculum fidelity for lesson 2. However, the focus group discussion suggests the PSSC curriculum for “Using Food Labels” is robust in providing participants valuable knowledge and skills. These findings suggest both curricula produced short-term behavior change; however, the BELH curriculum impacted more food- and nutrition-related behaviors. The main finding is that there was no significant difference between BELH and PSSC curriculum for change in food resource management, suggesting that both curricula were equally effective for behavior change, even though the dosage differed. The significant change in food resource management behavior from pre- to post-program among PSSC participants suggests behavior change was achieved despite fewer total lessons.
Amanda Jean Skalka
Skalka, Amanda Jean, "Evaluation of the nutrition education for limited resource audiences in Iowa" (2020). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 18404.
Available for download on Friday, January 07, 2022