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FROM NEEDS ASSESSMENT TO PROGRAM EVALUATION: USING CONTENT ANALYSIS AND SURVEYS TO EVALUATE CONSUMERS’ FOOD SAFETY KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDES, AND BEHAVIORS
Food safety educators and specialists are committed to closing the food safety education gap among different actors in the supply chain, from farm to fork. To accomplish it, they have to understand the needs of the target population to disseminate information and develop interventions. This thesis is divided into three case studies to explore needs assessments (Ch. 1 and 2) and program evaluation (Ch. 3). The first needs assessment (Ch.1) was developed due to a recent multistate outbreak linked to dried wood ear mushrooms. This study evaluated YouTube video content on the preparation of different wood ear mushrooms dishes and investigated the food safety risk associated with the handling practices. Practices such as rehydration procedures were identified as key food safety risk factors that need future exploration. The second needs assessment (Ch.2) was developed due to the impact of small- and medium-sized farms on USA agriculture. This study aimed to understand consumers’ perceptions and expectations of produce from small- and medium-sized farms and their desire to pay a premium price for food safety information. The findings showed that consumers perceived the produce from these farms to be fresher and of higher quality. Also, they considered food safety as a minimum quality standard and valued produce safety information. Finally, multiple needs assessments have shown that low-income populations, including minority groups, have unique barriers to adopting food safety practices. The third study (Ch.3) evaluated a dialogue-based virtual food safety program for English- and Spanish-speaking low-income populations using the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). Findings suggest that the TPB helped to discern the behavior change intentions of this population and showed that the intervention was able to increase participants’ knowledge, attitudes toward the behavior, perceived behavioral control (PBC), subjective norms, and behavior change intentions. Future work could modify the program to fit other minority populations in the USA.