Perceptions of key informants regarding the educational needs of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) target audience
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The purpose of this thesis study was to describe the perceptions of key informants regarding the nutrition and physical activity needs of SNAP participants and others residing in low-income communities. Professionals in Nevada with knowledge of or experience with SNAP households and others residing in low-income communities acted as key informants. Qualitative methods were employed to obtain in-depth information regarding the perceptions of key informants in regard to the needs of the SNAP-Ed target audience. This information will be used to prioritize SNAP-Ed program objectives. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted and audio recorded. The key informants included 35 professionals living in Nevada. The audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and responses to questions were coded into categories. Key informants rated Nevada SNAP-Ed target audience’s need for education on six topics using a five-point scale. Mean ratings were as follows: healthy eating = 4.5 ± 0.7, healthful shopping = 4.4 ± 0.7, food resource management = 4.2 ± 0.9, food safety = 3.5 ± 1.1, physical activity = 4.0 ± 0.8, sedentary behavior = 4.2 ± 0.8. Common themes were present in the interview data. Key informants communicated that healthy eating, healthful shopping, and food resource management are all related and it is difficult to disentangle the topics. Key informants also reported the importance of educating on cooking at home. Throughout the interviews, informants mentioned the value of coordination with other organizations. Informants reported that environmental barriers make it difficult for Nevadans to lead a healthy lifestyle. In response to a questions about what group in Nevada has the highest need for education on nutrition and physical activity, those with limited resources or low socioeconomic status were most commonly mentioned. Finally, the key informants communicated enthusiasm regarding policy, system, and environmental interventions and were eager to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for the SNAP-Ed audience. This study gathered valuable information regarding the perceptions of key informants regarding the needs of the SNAP-Ed target audience that will be useful for informing future SNAP-Ed programming. In addition, these results provided information on potential methods to make it easier for SNAP households and others residing in low-income community to choose healthful foods and be physically active more often.