Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center program to improve food access and mental health among food-insecure, postpartum women
In 2021, The Amarillo Area Foundation and the Don and Sybil Harrington Foundation granted TTUHSC $200,000.
TTUHSC Amarillo Grant Request
- The aim of this program is to improve food access and mental health among food-insecure postpartum women. The long-term goal of this program is to develop a scalable, sustainable community-based program that directly improves mental and physical health outcomes for mothers and their children.
- Therapeutic meals have been shown to improve health outcomes and reduce hospital admissions among medically vulnerable populations, but have not been tried among postpartum mothers – a population at high risk for physical and mental health problems. The meal intervention arm of the study partners with the local community-based program, Nutrition4Change (a subsidiary of SnackPak4Kids), to extend daily meals to postpartum mothers.
- The expectation is that mothers who receive the interventions of the MommaMeals program will experience lower rates of depression and anxiety, improved maternal weight status, and appropriate infant growth and development. Secondary outcomes include improved self-efficacy, breastfeeding rates, and other potential health indicators. The team of investigators combines rigorous methodologic training, nutrition expertise, and clinical experience with an innovative research agenda. This is the first program to implement medically-tailored meals in the post-partum period and will not only impact the recipient’s health but potentially that of their offspring.
The project has four objectives:
1) Assess the local feasibility of home-delivered, nutrient-dense meals for mothers with food insecurity in the immediate post-partum period.
2) Determine whether the duration of daily meal provision (2 vs 8 weeks) impacts the maternal mental health and nutritional status of the mother and infant.
3) Understand mothers’ perceptions of receiving a daily prepared meal and/or peer support groups in the postpartum period.
4) Examine how peer support in the postpartum period is associated with mental health outcomes among postpartum mothers and health and development in infants.
Recruitment and onboarding of essential personnel:
- 5 Doctoral of Physical Therapy Students at TTUHSC Amarillo Campus were recruited to deliver the MamaMeals intervention to participants, with a start date of June 1st.
- 4 Clinical Mental Health Counseling students were recruited to facilitate and moderate the MamaMatters support intervention (several others are volunteering).
Intervention planning and logistics
- 18 mothers (7 of whom were Spanish-speaking) were recruited (October 2021 through February 2022) to provide feedback on the MamaMeals and/or MamaMatters interventions.
- All of these women received at least 2 samples of the meals that will be used for the MamaMeals intervention.
- Findings were incorporated into the MWB study.
- A 4-week test of the MamaMatters social media-based intervention was conducted with several mothers to work out logistics and troubleshoot problems prior to rolling out the full pilot study.
- A focus group was held to receive feedback from the test group participants.