A mixed-methods approach toward promoting and evaluating the Congregate Meal Program in Linn County

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Schultz, Savannah
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Sarah L Francis
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Congregate Meal Program (CMP) participation is declining. This is concerning because of the growing older adult population. This two-part study applied the Social Marketing Theory to examine how to make the CMP more appealing for current and potential CMP participants and to evaluate to what extent a revised CMP marketing campaign impacts CMP awareness, utilization, satisfaction, and overall impact.

Study 1 entailed the facilitation of four focus groups (FG) (3 at meal sites n=21; 1 at senior apartments n=11) to identify CMP needs and preferences. FG transcripts were analyzed for themes using standard focus group protocol. Overall, FG participants wanted to attend the CMP for the affordable, healthy meal and the accessibility of the meal site as well as the opportunities for socialization. Non-CMP participants from the FG were not attending due to the lack of awareness and perceived need to participate in the CMP as well as transportation barriers. FG participants stated the ideal CMP would include meal choice, variety of activities and food options, as well as a positive and welcoming ambience. Preferred marketing routes were word of mouth, free local print media and television. This information was utilized is the design and implementation of extensive advertising and the Encore Café (Study 2). Study 2 involved multiple assessment surveys evaluating CMP awareness of community partners, CMP utilization and participant satisfaction, and CMP impact. CMP satisfaction was evaluated with a Traditional CMP and Innovations CMP participants. Overall CMP impact was assessed with Innovations CMP participants and non-CMP participants (Comparison). There was a significant increase in CMP awareness and CMP referral intentions (p=.017). Additionally, there was a 386% increase in CMP meal distribution and 3,164% increase in CMP participants. High CMP program satisfaction for both Traditional and Innovations CMP was noted. The Innovations group maintained their nutrition status and experienced a significant reduction in emotional loneliness (p=.017) and consumed significantly lower dietary intake frequencies of processed meat (p=.027) compared to non-CMP participants. These findings indicate that addressing the needs and preferences of older adults and establishing an effective marketing campaign may result in increased CMP participation, awareness and high satisfaction.

Fri May 01 00:00:00 UTC 2020