Best practice for community-based interventions includes partnering with community stakeholders for study design, implementation, and evaluation. Successful recruitment of families with low income into these studies requires an understanding of community characteristics, potential barriers to participation, and recruitment strategies. Local stakeholder advisory committees are critical for this process as community needs and residents differ.
To compare stakeholder perceptions of community characteristics and suggested recruitment strategies for participation in a healthy meal kit intervention for families with low income for three Florida communities (rural, suburban, and urban) with a high prevalence of food insecurity.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
Community stakeholders, referred by established partners, from rural (n = 10), suburban (n = 9), and urban (n = 10) neighborhoods participated in six semi-structured focus groups and completed a demographic survey.
Meetings were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, coded, and categorized by two researchers to identify common themes. Perceived community characteristics and suggested recruitment strategies were compared using cross-tab analysis.
Stakeholders (11 male, 17 female, 1 preferred not to answer) were 50.2 ± 12.9 years old, primarily non-Hispanic (89.7%) and white (65.5%). All stakeholders work in their respective communities and resided (n = 9) there for an average of 35.3 ± 21.0 years. Most (62.1%) had never purchased a meal kit. A similar community characteristic theme across all three groups was financial instability, although both rural and urban participants identified difficulty accessing fresh fruits and vegetables (F&V). Suburban and urban participants described their communities as diverse in age, culture, and/or spoken languages. Rural and urban stakeholders discussed local initiatives to increase fresh F&V access while suburban and urban stakeholders highlighted intracommunity partnerships. Recruitment strategies were more similar than not. All stakeholders suggested connecting with media outlets, schools, and faith-based and community organizations. Rural and urban stakeholders suggested presentations on the study. Suburban stakeholders suggested partnering with government agencies.
Community-specific nuances should be considered when recruiting for a healthy, community-based meal kit intervention intended to increase access to healthy foods for families with low income.