Evaluation of Food Security and Nutrition Knowledge of Limited Resource Families
Beretta, L. M., Koszewski, W. M., Betts, N. M., Benes, B. A., Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences
Scholarship and Practice
The goal of this study was to assess the quality of the diet, nutrition knowledge, and food security of primary caregivers (PCGs) and preschool-aged children. Eighteen limited-resource PCGs and 39 children, ages three to six years, participated in the study. The results of the study showed that the quality of the children's diet was better than the PCGs' diet. Despite the use of federally funded nutrition programs, families still faced food insecurity; however, federally funded nutrition programs are making a positive impact in the lives of the families who use them.
Materials developed for data collection consisted of an informed consent form, a recruitment flier, a primary caregiver's questionnaire, a three- to six-year-olds' questionnaire, a sample food record form, a primary caregiver's food record form, a child's food record form, and an information handout on food groups and serving sizes of foods. Several resources were used in the development of these materials including the Healthy Eating Index (Kennedy et al., 1995; U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1995), the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals-Household Questionnaire (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1990), the Food Security Questionnaire (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1996), the Diet and Health Knowledge Questionnaire (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1989), the Study Kit for Developing Health Education Materials for Special Audiences: Low-Literate Adults (Shield and Mullen, 1992), information about serving sizes of foods (Martin, 1996), and the journal article Diet-related knowledge, attitudes, and practices of low-income individuals with children in the household (Morton and Guthrie, 1997). The materials were written at or below a fifth grade reading level (Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of Microsoft(R) Word 97 SR-1).
The original plan was to perform a pilot study with a comparable audience prior to any data collection from the participating children and PCGs from the participating facilities. Due to time constraints and limited sample size, the pilot study was not performed. Instead, seven dietetics professionals reviewed the materials for overall age and subject appropriateness before they were used in the project.
Prior to recruiting participants, the researcher obtained approval from the Institutional Review Board at the University of the Nebraska-Lincoln. The participating facilities wrote a letter granting permission for the researcher to utilize their facilities and clientele for recruitment and data collection. Participants were recruited from the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), various community centers, and the Head Start programs all located in Lincoln, NE. For recruitment at the YMCA, fliers were given to children of the correct age for the study to take home to their caregivers. The researcher handed out fliers to the caregivers as they picked up their children from the community centers. Fliers were handed out at Head Start to the caregivers at the ParentChild Socializations. Participating PCGs were required to sign a letter of consent, which gave permission for themselves and their preschool-aged child or children to participate in the project.
The PCGs of the participating families were responsible for filling out a food record for themselves, three days of food records for their participating child or children, and responding to a questionnaire. In one portion of the questionnaire, PCGs were asked to indicate how many servings of food they usually eat each day from each of the food groups. The participants were.given guidelines of food groups and serving sizes of foods within each food group to assist them in answering these questions. Comparisons were made of these responses with calculated responses from the food records. The PCGs were also asked three questions designed to evaluate their nutrition knowledge of fat, fiber, and sugar. …