The goal of this project is to develop a food safety education program for leaders and member volunteers of faith-based organizations that provide food and shelter for evacuees of catastrophic disasters such as hurricanes. Specifically, this project will target leaders and volunteers of faith-based organizations who have experiences providing food and shelter for evacuees located in surrounding states of hurricane-prone U.S. coastal areas. <P>
Specific objectives of the project are:
<OL> <LI> To assess food safety knowledge, attitudes, food handling practices, and food safety education needs in shelters operated by faith-based organizations during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita by a telephone survey of faith-based organization leaders,
<LI>To identify specific food handling practices and food safety education needs by focus groups of leaders and volunteers of evacuation shelters operated by faith-based organizations, including appropriate delivery method for food safety education,
<LI> To develop culturally sensitive food safety educational program in English and Spanish with a variety of education materials encompassing safe food handling and personal hygiene for volunteers and evacuees at evacuation shelters based on survey and focus group results,
<LI>To evaluate the effectiveness of the educational program by knowledge tests after implementing the food safety education program, and
<LI> To develop a plan for post-disaster follow-up study that further evaluates the effectiveness of the food safety education program by in-depth telephone interview after distributing food safety education materials.
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Evacuees and volunteers in shelters operated by faith-based organizations may be at greater health and food safety risks due to compromised living arrangements and a lack of structured training to ensure food safety. This project will develop and evaluate a food safety education program for leaders and member volunteers of faith-based organizations that provide food and shelter for evacuees of catastrophic disasters such as hurricanes.
APPROACH: The project will include five phases which correspond to five research objectives.
Phase I is a telephone survey of leaders of faith-based organizations to assess knowledge and attitudes toward food safety as well as food handling practices for risk assessment. Based on information about the evacuation flow, a master list of 1,000 faith-based non-profit organizations from eight states (LA, TX, AL, MS, GA, FL, AK, and TN) will be identified and contacted.
Phase II will consist of focus groups with leaders and volunteers of faith-based organizations to identify needs for food safety education for leaders and volunteers at evacuation shelters operated by faith-based organizations. A total of 12 focus groups will be conducted in locations within the four states most directly affected by the hurricanes (Baton Rouge, LA, Houston, TX, Jackson, MS, and Birmingham, AL).
Phase III is the development of a food safety education program including a variety of education and training materials for use at faith-based organizations. Based on the survey and focus group results, an outline of food safety topics for educational media will be developed. Researchers will work with media consultants at the Instructional Support Services at the Texas Woman's University in developing a storyboard plan for the materials. Appropriate education medium will be determined based on the preference identified during survey and focus groups. Possible media formats may be videotape, DVD, or CD-ROM for computer or web-based training module.
Phase IV will be an evaluation of effectiveness of the food safety education program with volunteers and leaders of faith-based organizations. A pre-test and post-test evaluation with intervention and control groups will be used to compare knowledge and attitudes regarding food safety before and after a structured training session and the effectiveness of the training. Identical pre- and post-test items will be developed to assess understanding of content in the education medium, and demographic information will be collected. The post-test will include additional questions to evaluate usability and usefulness of the education materials. The pre-test will be given before a 45-minute food safety education session for the intervention group, and the post-test after the session. The control group will receive emergency response education other than food safety. To measure the retention of knowledge and attitudes, a follow-up test will be administered three months after the training session.
Phase V will be a distribution of food safety education materials and development of a plan for a post-disaster follow-up study to further evaluate the effectiveness of the food safety education program. Once completed, over 500 copies of the food safety education program will be distributed. Due to inability to foresee when the next disaster will affect the areas and result in an evacuation, a data collection plan for the post-disaster follow-up study will be developed during the project period. Development and pilot-test of data collection instrument will be completed and a comprehensive database for prospective participants will be maintained.