Refugees face many changes in purchasing and preparing nutritious food for their families upon relocation. Nutrition education can be an important part of improving nutrition and health for refugees.
To survey current providers of refugee nutrition education in the United States about current program implementation, successful program strategies, program challenges, and future program needs.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
All program directors of Supplemental Nutrition Education Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) programs in the US were invited to complete an online Qualtrics survey.
SPSS was used to run descriptive statistics on the quantitative variables; grounded theory was used to explore the qualitative data.
Forty-one participants from 36 states responded to the survey. Thirteen directors from 12 states reported implementing no programs targeted at refugees in the past year. Twenty-eight directors from 24 states reported implementing at least 1 program targeted at refugees in the past year. The average number of programs reported by states that had at least 1 program was 4. Directors ranked the efficacy of the programs they implemented from 0-100% effective. The average efficacy of programs was 75.8 (range 20 – 100; SD 17.6). Hands-on, skill-based learning such as gardening, cooking classes, grocery store tours, and tasting experiences emerged as a main theme of successful programs. Language and cultural issues including the need for translation in multiple languages and culturally sensitive curriculum emerged as main themes of challenges to successful programs.
Extension programs provide nutrition education to refugees in many states. Future programs aimed at helping refugees to healthfully adapt to their new food environments should provide culturally sensitive opportunities for skill-based learning.