Becoming more Latino : the journey of an extension nutrition education program Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/st74ct16g

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  • Latinos are the fastest growing minority group in the U.S. and are expected to be 25% of the population by the year 2050. Latinos also are more vulnerable and at higher risk for poor health outcomes including diabetes and other chronic health ailments than Anglos. Many of the serious effects of these diseases can be ameliorated with changes in diet and life style. These changes are difficult for ethnic minority populations who lack access to culturally sensitive health and nutrition education. Several innovative and culturally competent programs have been initiated to provide preventative health education to high risk Latinos. Las Comidas Latinas (The Spanish Meals) was developed to teach health and food safety to Latino families as part of a federally funded education program for low income, Food Stamp eligible families. The ecological model was utilized to examine the microsystem, mesosystems, exosystem, and macrosystem processes and changes that underlie the development and implementation of a culturally competent program. What characterized the relationships between and among program staff, other agency partners, and participants? And what organizational processes contributed to the development and success of this culturally competent program? Interviews with participants, staff members at the state, county, supervisory and direct service levels and partner agencies indicated that participants in Las Comidas Latinas reported warm and caring relationships that contributed to positive health and social gains for themselves and their children. Organizational factors at the macro, intermediate, and individual levels such as a positive view of diversity, environmental and political factors, policy changes, and involvement of Latino community leaders contributed to successful program development and implementation. Two major categories of recommendations have emerged for the field and other service programs: attending to cultural norms and enacting flexible organizational policies. Key findings in cultural relevance include: create a bilingual and bicultural workforce, promote a safe and welcoming environment, hire program paraprofessionals for their cultural knowledge, and seek information about the community to be served. Organizational recommendations are to persist in approaching the target community to be served, provide "space" for innovation, and recognize and value unexpected social benefits. Future research suggestions are included.
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