May 15, 2018

Emily Schettler

Harkin Institute shares results of inaugural community wellness report

Senator Tom Harkin (retired) and The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement on Friday shared results of its recently-released Harkin on Wellness Report at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The inaugural Harkin on Wellness Report provides information about 11 of the top community wellness programs from around the country and identifies key components that help make such initiatives successful. Those factors include: adaptability, community acceptance, reach, and sustainability, among others.

“Wellness and health is not just limited to a doctor and a patient in a doctor’s office or a hospital,” Sen. Harkin said during the presentation Friday. “If we really want to have a healthy society and we want to focus on health care instead of sick care, it has to be a part of our whole community.”

Sen. Harkin was joined by Dr. Bill Dietz, a nationally-renowned expert in obesity, nutrition, and physical activity and director of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at the Milken Institute School for Public Health at George Washington University.

Dietz, who served on the review committee that helped select the initiatives to highlight, emphasized the importance of such programs, especially at a time when food insecurity is leading to chronic health problems for many Americans.

“The work of these programs is so important because the solutions to the obesity epidemic are not going to occur at the federal level, they’re going to occur at the community and state levels,” Dietz said.

All 11 of the programs selected to participate in the report have agreed to serve as resources to other communities looking to start their own initiatives and lead the charge toward better health.

Representative from four programs participated in the release and shared details about the work they are doing to improve the lives of their neighbors, colleagues, and future generations through innovative solutions to problems such as food insecurity, poor diet quality, and lack of exposure to healthy food.

The four programs on hand for the release included:

  • Well Connected Communities (formerly Cooperative Extension System: RWJF Culture of Health Partnership), a nationwide initiative
  • Crossroads Community Food Network, Takoma Park, MD
  • DC Central Kitchen, Washington, D.C.
  • Edible Schoolyard NYC, New York

A copy of the full Harkin on Wellness Report is available here.


The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement was founded at Drake University in 2013 on the premise that good public policy is best achieved when policymakers have access to high quality information, political processes are open and well-understood, and citizens are informed and active participants, The Harkin Institute offers programing, experiences, research, and connectivity focused on the areas that defined Senator Tom Harkin’s (Retired) career – people with disabilities, retirement security, wellness and nutrition, and labor and employment. Learn more about The Harkin Institute at



Address: 2429 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50311 Phone: 515-271-3623 Fax Number: 515-271-3631 Email: Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.