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Peer mentors serve as valuable and reliable community assets who can deliver nutrition education programs to food-insecure families within food pantry settings. However, little is known about peer mentors' personal perspectives and individual insights from serving in this role.
To explore peer mentors' perspectives and experiences after leading a nutrition education program in a local food pantry setting.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
A qualitative descriptive study was conducted using focus groups with eleven peer mentors in a southeastern Pennsylvania food pantry.
Focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis based on descriptive phenomenology.
All peer mentors were women over fourty years of age, recruited from the food pantry community; most were high school graduates and received federal nutrition assistance. The peer mentors reported many positive benefits from serving as program peer mentors, notably 1) an empowering and supportive team experience; 2) increased confidence and communication skills; 3) feeling valued and personal relatability to program participants.
Utilizing peer mentors to deliver nutrition education programs within food pantry settings has many advantages extending beyond program participants to peer mentors' personal growth in leadership roles. However, more research is needed to evaluate the sustainability (personal and community-wide) of using a peer mentor model in food-insecure communities.
Villanova University Fitzpatrick College of Nursing Research Grant
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