SNP News Release:
WVU, Marshall University spreading news of health benefits of seafood
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Strategic communications students and faculty at West Virginia and Marshall Universities are joining forces to expand the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) public health education campaign statewide in West Virginia.
Asher Agency, with offices here and in eight other U.S. cities, manages the West Virginia SNP coalition and enlisted the two universities. Students are fully engaged in grassroots activities on campus and in Morgantown and Huntington to spread the word about the benefits of seafood nutrition throughout October’s National Seafood Month also proclaimed “Seafood Nutrition Partnership Month” by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.
“I hope the SNP project can serve as a model for how our higher education institutions can work in unison to help solve problems facing the state,” said Janet Dooley, Associate Dean and Professor of Advertising at Marshall University’s College of Arts and Media. “This is a great opportunity for students to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to a real life grassroots education effort that can generate positive health outcomes for the people of West Virginia.”
Students at both universities are educating their communities about the health and nutritional benefits of seafood by signing up fellow classmates, faculty and the public for the Healthy Heart Pledge (HHP). The HHP is a voluntary commitment to consume seafood at least twice a week, as recommended by the USDA/HHS Dietary Guidelines. Currently, only 10% of all Americans follow the USDA guidelines by eating at least two servings of seafood each week. .
Outreach locations determined by the students include football tailgates, student unions, farmers’ markets, dining halls, recreation centers and health facilities. Students plan to educate the public about the benefits of a seafood-rich diet which can promote heart and brain health.
“This project is particularly interesting for me because of the personal ties I have to heart disease,” said Jamie Messer, a senior WVU Strategic Communications major from Charleston, WV. “My family has lost several friends to this disease. Since I was unaware of seafood’s nutritional benefits until after they were gone, I want to help others and spread the word that something as simple as eating seafood could help improve their health.”
Marshall senior Chloe Lightner agreed, saying “Our state has many great attributes; however, nutrition is not one of them. The SNP campaign provides education and information on the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, and how seafood can provide their body with many vital nutrients.”
The Mountaineers and Thundering Herd are building diverse mini-coalitions to help boost the pledge sign-ups and to offer demonstrations of easy ways to purchase, prepare and enjoy seafood. While Marshall students have tapped Cabell Huntington Hospital, its Student Nurse Association and Huntington’s Kitchen for support, the WVU class has convinced the Mountainlair student union, Evansdale Café dining hall and other advertising/public relations students to get involved. Both universities are recruiting the Greek communities, football fans statewide and social and digital media to leverage the SNP campaign.
Marshall students are also executing online tactics during the Oct. 10-16 Seafood Restaurant Week featuring 22 area restaurants in Charleston, and WVU is supporting Asher Agency’s coordination of a half-day Healthy Heart Summit from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. Oct. 27 at the Charleston campus of the WVU Health Sciences Center. Representatives of both schools will be at the Summit to compare notes and to be recognized.
Use the hashtag #Seafood2xWkWV to follow the progress of the SNP campaign online and the students’ tactics.
Faculty leaders see the value of incorporating the SNP campaign into this semester’s course work.
“Anytime we can utilize actual public education work into our curriculum, it’s a win-win,” said Catherine Mezera, Teaching Assistant Professor of Strategic Communications at the WVU Reed College of Media. “In this case, our WVU students benefit from real-life experience and we can all feel good helping generate awareness to the health benefits of incorporating seafood twice a week into one’s diet. As a native West Virginian, it’s important to me to give back to this great state.”
About Seafood Nutrition Partnership — Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit whose mission is to inspire a healthier America through partnerships that raise awareness about the essential nutritional benefits of eating seafood. SNP leads education efforts to help Americans gain the skills to select, order and prepare fish and shellfish, and to inspire a healthier America by promoting a nutrient-rich diet that includes seafood and omega-3s. In October 2015, SNP launched a three-year national public health education campaign that now includes eight U.