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P75 Successes and Challenges of Using a Peer Mentor Model for Nutrition Education Within a Food Pantry: A Qualitative Study

      Background

      Delivering nutrition education within an emergency food pantry (EFP) is a valuable and sustainable approach to target the food insecure and underserved populations. However, little is known about using a peer mentor model, “Community Cooks,” as a modality to deliver nutrition education within this setting.

      Objective

      This research aimed to identify the successes and challenges of using a peer mentor model within an EFP to better understand the best approaches to deliver nutrition education among community residents.

      Study Design, Setting, Participants

      In spring 2018, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 peer mentors after they delivered a series of nutrition workshops to community members of the EFP.

      Measurable Outcome/Analysis

      Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the data.

      Results

      All peer mentors were women over 40 years-of-age, recruited from the EFP community; most were high school graduates and received some form of federal nutrition assistance. All peer mentors reported that the “Community Cooks” nutrition education program offered many benefits. Key successes of the program included the use of nutrition education sessions that were appropriately tailored to a food insecure population, recipes included ingredients often found at the EFP, and serving as a peer mentor was an empowering experience. Peer mentors reported a sense of community, purpose, and camaraderie. Key challenges of the program were the lack of community member engagement in the nutrition education workshops.

      Conclusions

      Challenges continue to exist when delivering nutrition education within a community EFP setting. While the use of peer mentors to deliver nutrition education messages is promising, more research is needed to quantify the impact of using a peer mentor model in underserved and food insecure communities.
      Funding The Patricia Kind Foundation; The Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia.

      Appendix. Supplementary data