Communicating this information to these groups would often entail little or no increased cost. The limiting factor may be education of the providers (e.g., public health nurses) themselves. National associations could be an easy point of access for communicating information and networking (e.g., http://www.naccho.org).
Most state public health agencies, as well as many city and county agencies, have some statutory responsibility for seafood safety (advisories and posting regulatory actions, e.g., based on bacterial testing of oyster beds). Most of these agencies have health education programs including nutrition staff who provide individual counseling as well as health education to the general public. These agencies touch virtually every community and citizen in this country—there are more than 3000 local public health departments, not including county and state departments (SOURCE: http://www.naccho.org).
Community and migrant primary health care centers are funded through section 330 of the US Public Health Service Act and are charged with providing primary care and disease prevention services to low-income and other at-risk groups. Growth of their network has been a priority of the federal government, and the number of local sites exceeds 400, reaching millions of people daily (SOURCE: http://www.hrsa.gov). These centers are more often than not placed in communities at-risk. The community migrant health centers have also shown that when emphasis and training on disease prevention issues have been made a priority, disease (e.g., breast and cervical cancers) prevention interventions can actually exceed those provided to members of the general population who are not regarded as at risk. Community migrant health could be an important vehicle in helping consumers make informed seafood choices.
There are a variety of federally funded but locally administered consumer education (e.g., Cooperative Extension System, see Box 7-1) and maternal-child health agencies (e.g., Title 5, Women, Infants, and Children Program [WIC], Head Start) that provide guidance and care to the general public, and to mothers and children. Although located in different agencies (e.g., WIC is administered through the US Department of Agriculture, Head Start is administered through the Administration for Children and Families [ACF]), these programs frequently serve either similar or the same populations. As with health partners in community health centers, they have a similar emphasis on health education and communication, and present significant opportunities for influencing consumer decision making.