Training New Community Health, Food Service, and Environmental Protection Workers Could Boost Health, Jobs, and Growth

General job training programs, and separate disease prevention or health promotion programs are usually viewed as two different strategies for reducing poverty and promoting community development. We propose that with better alignment of the strategies, new jobs with the potential to simultaneously improve population health, lower the cost of health care, and reduce unemployment could be created and filled.

Initiatives for three types of entry-level positions—in the fields of community health, environmental remediation and protection, and food preparation—show particular promise as vehicles for health and economic improvement at the individual and community levels. Building on current federal programs, new pilot projects financed by federal funding should be created to test and refine such initiatives and their impact and assemble an evidence base for future policy action.