Date of Award

12-2006

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Food, Nutrition, and Culinary Science

Advisor

CASON, KATHERINE L

Abstract

ABSTRACT
Migrant farm workers--a high percentage of which are Hispanic--are an extremely disadvantaged population that experiences several barriers, including language, nutrition, transportation, and access to health services. This population also suffers from numerous diseases (obesity, diabetes, and heart disease) and experiences various hazards associated with risky work, such as pesticide exposure. This study included data collection on basic health and nutrition barriers to identify areas where programs and policies can be modified to better serve migrant farm workers. In addition, data was examined to determine the effect of all-inclusive educational intervention on nutrition, dental, fitness, and food safety issues by testing the level of knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors of migrant preschool children in Beaufort, South Carolina.
The first part of the project was exploratory, and consisted of key informant interviews. The interviews were conducted with migrant health providers in order to examine the nutrition and health context of migrant farm workers. In addition, the study included data based on observations using anecdotal records to obtain descriptions of camp facilities, food preparation, storage facilities, and living conditions of migrant farm workers. A review of migrant records, including a 45-question survey about each migrant child`s clinical history, and a nutrient analysis of the menus served at Migrant Head Start was conducted as part of this exploratory study.
The second part of the project involved a pilot study with 21 migrant children, ages 3 to 5 years. The effectiveness of a comprehensive educational intervention on knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors using the Color Me Healthy (CMH) curriculum as a tool was assessed. One-hour educational interventions were provided daily over a six-week time period.
According to the key informants in Beaufort, migrant farm workers deal with many issues such as lack of medical insurance, lack of education in nutrition and health related topics, lack of transportation and refrigeration, and a language barrier, that make it difficult to achieve proper nutrition and health practices and behaviors. Other barriers related to their living conditions in the migrant camps were documented in the course of researcher observations at migrant camps.
A high prevalence of overweight was found among migrant children at the Migrant Head Start in Beaufort. While the food served to the migrant children at Migrant Head Start meets the requirements and standards of the USDA and of the Child and Adult Care Food Program, it was also relatively high in sodium and fat.
All migrant children significantly increased their knowledge in nutrition, food safety, and physical activity after their participation in the pilot intervention. When the pre and post test results were compared, the older children (5 years of age) performed better than younger children. For this reason this age may be a more appropriate age to begin educational interventions that target young children. The teaching style and personality of the educator providing the educational intervention may also influence the level of impact the intervention has on the children.
The information provided from this project may catalyze progress in improving the health of migrant farm workers. The knowledge base developed can contribute to appropriate education programs, and provide needed information for disease prevention and intervention planning for migrant farm workers and their families.

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