Service Learning/Capstone Experience
Master of Public Health
First Committee Member
Hongmei Wang, PhD
Second Committee Member
Melissa Tibbits, PhD
Third Committee Member
Chronic disease can leave individuals incapable of caring for themselves, leading to a low quality of life. Public health researchers have proven how crucial medically tailored meals are to those fighting such chronic diseases. Open Arms is a local nonprofit that started in 1986. They make and deliver meals, free of charge, to people with life-threatening illnesses.
The goal of this study is to examine the benefits of the meal services provided by Open Arms of Minnesota to clients who are chronically ill. To learn about the benefits, analysis was conducted on the client satisfaction survey data collected. The anonymous survey was sent to all 619 primary clients in July 2017 electronically and as a paper copy. A total of 290 surveys were collected in August, leading to a 47% response rate. Overall satisfaction was measured by examining categorical responses to questions about food preference, food quality/quantity, Open Arms staff and volunteers, effectiveness of meals, resources and child/caregiver meal satisfaction. Satisfaction was shown by using percentages. Additionally, bivariate analysis of two important factors, primary diagnosis, and meal plan type, were performed by using the chi-squared test to show the relationship between these variables using a p-value of 0.05.
Results concluded a very high satisfaction with Open Arms service. Ninety-seven percent are satisfied with food quality, and 98% agree that the meals provided have helped them.
Clients receiving different meal plans reported different levels of satisfaction with food quantity. Food quantity was based upon clients’ opinion of the overall amount of food, whether that be their opinion of portion sizes or total amount of food delivered in a week. A higher percentage of clients from the ‘Variety/Gluten Free Dairy Free/Latino/Vegan’ group were satisfied with the food quantity compared to the ‘Flavor Neutral/Renal/Heart Healthy’ and ‘Meat and Potatoes’ group. Statistical significance was found between the difference in meal plan groups, with a p-value of 0.03. Clients receiving different meal plans reported different levels of satisfaction with quality of food. A higher percentage of clients from the ‘Flavor Neutral/Renal/Heart Healthy’ were more satisfied compared to the ‘Meat and Potatoes’ and ‘Variety/Gluten Free Dairy Free/Latino/Vegan’ group.
Clients with different chronic diseases reported different levels of satisfaction with food quantity. A higher percentage of clients with cancer were satisfied with the quantity of food compared to those in the ‘MS/ALS/Other’ and ‘HIV/AIDS’ groups. Clients also reported various levels of satisfaction with quality of food. A higher percentage of clients in the ‘MS/ALS/Other’ group were more satisfied compared to the ‘Cancer’ and ‘HIV/AIDS’ group.
Additional analyses examined the relationship between age, gender, race and ethnicity. There were slight differences in satisfaction of food quality and quantity between groups, with some showing statistical significance.
Areas of improvement include client education about which meal plan they are receiving and education about free of charge appointments available with the dietitian. Additionally, low levels of consumption of some brown bag items versus others also needs to be examined. Open Arms will utilize the results to make data-driven changes to increase client satisfaction.
Rhinehart, Carlie, "Examining the Benefits and Client Satisfaction of the Open Arms of Minnesota Meal Service Program" (2018). Service Learning/Capstone Experience. 24.