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Students Present at Conference

Dietetics students Marie Parker and Alex Webb presented their research at the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spring conference.

Marie Parker

Enhancing Home Grown Health; An Assessment of Community Supported Agriculture Members Regarding Nutrition Education Needs

Marie Parker_B.jpgThe purpose of this assessment was to identify opportunities for nutrition education of Mid-Michigan CSA members. As part of a CSA, members receive a large quantity of fresh produce each week. This fresh produce leads to many health benefits, including consuming more fruits and vegetables then nonmembers. Unfortunately, receiving a large quantity of vegetables which one may not be familiar with can make it difficult to know how to effectively prepare them. An online survey was given to members of three local CSA programs in order to understand what aspects of nutrition education they perceive would benefit them as CSA members. Conclusions from this study indicated Central Michigan CSA members are most interested in emailed newsletters (95.4%) or websites (86.1%) as a source of information. Overall individuals seem to have some interest in nutrition education especially regarding using a variety of vegetables and preventing having to throw away unused produce. This study indicates there are opportunities for nutrition education in this population which could potentially be utilized by the CMU dietetics program or other dietetic programs as an undergraduate field work opportunity. Outside of dietetic programs it should be noted that CSA members are very open to nutritional support and may be a good source of potential clients or community based action. 

Alex Webb
Produce to Pantries: An assessment of Rural vs. Urban Food Pantry Clients Fruit and Vegetable Access and Preferences
Alex Webb_B.jpg
Individuals of low socioeconomic status are subject to increased risk of food insecurity. Food insecure populations often turn to community nutrition programs that provide food packages to supplement their household’s diet. The purpose of this project was to examine food access and preferences of rural versus urban food package recipients. 110 participants were surveyed. Rural participants (N=91) were recruited during a food truck distribution in Clare, Michigan. Urban Participants (N=19) were recruited during a food bank distribution in Muskegon, Michigan. Participants were asked about their food access, preferences and exposure to nutrition education. The survey was adapted from the study "Food Preferences of Users of the Emergency Food System.”

A majority of urban participants were African American (60%) and rural participants were Caucasian (81.7%). Urban households tended to be larger than rural households (3.9 vs 2.8, P=<0.06). There was no difference between the food groups that rural and urban patrons value. However, urban respondents preferred receiving canned fruits and vegetables while rural respondents preferred receiving fresh fruits and vegetables (P<0.05). Additionally, urban respondents preferred receiving dry beans while rural respondents preferred receiving canned beans (P<0.05). Access to nutrition education was far lower among urban participants than rural participants (18% vs. 63%, P<0.05). These findings suggest that geographic location plays a role in food preferences and access to nutrition education. There may be some roadblocks that are leading to lower nutrition education among urban communities and resources should be focused on increasing preference for fresh fruits and vegetables.

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