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The community nutrition worker project: a retrospective survey of peer educators


, : The community nutrition worker project: a retrospective survey of peer educators. Journal of the Canadian Dietetic Association 58(1): 34-40

The Community Nutrition Worker (CNW) Project uses peer educators to deliver basic nutrition information and food skills training within low-income communities. The purpose of this qualitative, retrospective survey was to describe the effects of involvement in the CNW Project on the peer educators themselves. Fifteen of the 20 women who completed training since the program's inception in 1988, plus a trainee who did not certify, participated in telephone interviews comprising 31, largely open-ended questions. Only five of the 16 respondents were still working as CNWs. The others expressed disappointment that the program had not provided more hours of work and pay for preparation time. Although the program targets young, lower-income families, CNWs who were single parents with lower incomes and in their 20s when trained, were less likely to continue. While training provided CNWs with sound nutrition knowledge, most would have liked more skills for presenting, listening, giving advice and facilitating groups. CNWs felt well supported by the Community Health Department, but noted that neither the health department nor community agencies were able to hire them as employees. Nevertheless, for the majority of respondents, involvement in the CNW project was a positive experience that affirmed their value and ability.

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