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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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Wellness Trends - July 2019

Posted By NWI, Thursday, July 25, 2019

Surgeon General Priority: Community Health and Economic Prosperity

The health of Americans is not as good as it could be, despite large expenditures on healthcare. Our poorer health status creates costs and challenges for individuals, families, communities, and businesses, and can be a drag on the economy, as too many jobs remain unfilled and productivity is adversely affected. Many of our poor health problems are rooted in inadequate investments in prevention and unequal economic opportunities in our communities.  Read more at HHS.gov.


Is #MeToo a Multicultural Competency? 

Great article on how the #MeToo movement is shaping policy at work. Consultants, public health leaders, health coaches, academics, clinicians need to consider the positive impact that can be had with understanding multi-cultural strategies.  The article states, “The #MeToo movement set in motion a nationwide discussion and contributed to countless positive changes. The next step is to make sure that current sexual harassment policies are in place and understood by everyone to create a safe, welcoming workplace for all employees.”  As you read this, think about the multi-cultural competencies that must be considered beyond gender.  Read more at BenefitsPRO.com.


Can summer stress cause employee burnout? 

While summertime is often seen as a leisurely season where Americans take time off for extended family vacations and enjoy long days at the beach, new research suggests time off doesn’t always translate into reduced stress.  Read more at benefitnews.com.


Self-Care Guidelines and How to Teach Others about the Power of Self-Care

In an effort to bring the practice of self-care to a broader audience, The World Health Organization(WHO) has launched its first guideline on self-care interventions for health.  It’s aimed to “empower individuals, families and communities to optimize their health as advocates.

While this is a great resource to offer, just handing out a guidebook will not solve the issue. We must train individuals to teach others about the power of self-care.  It begins with understanding how to dive into one’s conscience, in an effort to make the change.  Programs like NWI’s Empowered Health Consciousness is a great way to learn these tools.  Please read the WHO guidelines and learn for yourself, but consider how you can teach others to develop better self-care.  


Worksite Wellness 


Well-Being Enhances Benefits of Employee Engagement

Two major factors influence employee performance, Gallup has found: engagement and well-being . Read more at Gallup.com.


8 Things You Need To Know About Employee Wellness Programs

Employee wellness programs can look different at different companies, and that’s a good thing.  Read more at Forbes.com.


The Right Ingredients Brew Wellness Program Success

Stress management and tech tools improve outcomes, but incentives are questioned. Read more at SHRM.org.


Financial Wellness


6 Ways to Measure the Success of Financial Wellness Efforts  

Employers are missing out on opportunities to improve these programs.  Read more SHRM.org.


Pay Off Debt Or Save For Retirement? It's Time For An Actuary-Splainer 

What's the best approach to managing finances?  Read more at Forbes.com.


5 Things to Know About Financial Wellness Programs  

More employers offer workers guidance on budgeting and paying down debt. Here's how to make the most of it.  Read more ConsumerReports.com.


Tags:  burnout  Community wellness  employee wellness  Empowered Health Consciousness  Financial Wellness  multicultural competency  self care  trends  wellness trends  Worksite Wellness 

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Community Food Security: Resources and a Wellness Perspective

Posted By Christina Peterson, Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Updated: Monday, July 15, 2019

As wellness professionals, we know nutrition is more than just healthy or unhealthy choices. The environments in which people live, work, and play influence food availability, accessibility, dietary behaviors, and ultimately, health. As NWI’s recent attention to social determinants of health, highlights food security and diet quality varies across neighborhoods, counties, and states. It’s evident that socio-economic factors, such as composition of local food environments, household social capital, and concentrated disadvantage, influence diet quality. In response, Community Food Security (CFS) has emerged as a movement and framework to ensure, “safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance, social justice, and democratic decision-making”. We are witnessing the growth of this movement in our communities as local food policy councils form coalitions, worksites implement programs that connect employees with local foods, and states raise minimum wages in the food-service industry.

cityscape with light trails at night

CFS Resources

My research focuses on understanding the determinants of CFS and implications for evaluation. Through my work, I’ve reviewed many great CFS resources that wellness professionals may find useful. The following sections provide links to these resources and a review on ways to build strengths in the practice of CFS and wellness.

1. Learn more about CFS:
Community Food Security in the United States: A Review of the Literature
Whole Communities Fellowship
(Applications for the 2020 fellowship cohort will open in November 2019)

2. Plan and evaluate:
Whole Measures for Community Food Systems
Values-Based Planning & Evaluation
USDA Community Food Security Assessment Toolkit

Building on Strengths: Wellness meets CFS

Wellness is defined by the National Wellness Institute as an “Active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence”. Wellness promotion focuses on creating the conditions that support health (rather than just preventing disease) by leveraging strategies grounded in respect for human agency, self-determination, authentic relationships, and participatory decision-making. Yet, individual wellness is embedded in and inter-dependent with the wellness of the community. Community wellness models stress the importance of fairness and justice to wellness promotion. By viewing nutrition through a community lens, focusing on strengths, and engaging members in making decisions about their food environment, the vision and practice of CFS is a natural fit with wellness promotion.

CFS is a growing movement and while the resources currently available are helpful, wellness practitioners may face challenges in initiating change on CFS issues. However, there are ways to build upon the strengths of wellness and CFS to improve participatory decision-making, multi-cultural competency, financial wellness, and evaluation.

Participatory Decision-making

Participatory decision-making is a value at the heart of wellness promotion and CFS as it enables individuals and communities to exercise agency and self-determination. However, power within communities is not evenly distributed and can influence participation in decision-making, agenda setting, and the shaping of perceived needs. Long-term engagement in community planning and evaluation efforts often requires time, transportation, child-care, and skills. These constraints can prevent marginalized groups from influencing the types of programs and policies initiated to improve the food environment in their community (see What Wellness Professionals Need to Know about Sugar Taxes as an example). Ensuring that planning meetings are accessible to a diverse range of community members is critical. Practitioners must also recognize that capacity building may be needed to ensure that everyone at the table has the skills to contribute to their full potential.

people in the cityMulti-cultural Competency

Multi-cultural competency is an essential aspect of wellness practice. There is substantial evidence that CFS and nutrition initiatives can reinforce racial hierarchies by divorcing nutrition and food preferences from a sociocultural context. For instance, deficit-based nutrition education programs that ignore participants’ culinary traditions or experience risks, violate personal agency and self-determination rather than supporting it. That’s not wellness. Moreover, some food advocates argue that the term “food desert” supports white privilege by implying emptiness in (often-times) black and brown communities and failing to recognize the robust informal food networks that exist. Organizations can provide staff with multi-cultural competency training that goes beyond one-size-fits-all nutrition programs and policies.

Financial Wellness

Nutrition is multi-dimensional and connected to each aspect of wellness, not just physical. In terms of occupational wellness, the food-service industry is one of the largest and fastest growing sectors in America. Although financial wellness has received a lot of attention recently due, in part to its influence on stress, current conversations overlook the role of economic justice. Socioeconomic patterns, such as geographic concentrations of low wages, high rent costs, residential instability, and unemployment adversely impact the financial wellness of individuals, but also entire communities. CFS expands the concept of financial wellness by building local wealth with policies like promoting local business development, community economic literacy, living wages, and investment in infrastructure that supports environmental health—Green New Deal anyone?


The final strength to build upon relates to evaluation. The CFS resources cited earlier provide guidance on how to define intended outcomes and select indicators in a participatory manner. However, CFS and wellness are characterized by complex systems that may not be fully understood, controllable, or predictable. Thus, unintended outcomes are inevitable. Current CFS evaluation guides do not provide detail on methods for evaluating systems and unintended outcomes. When evaluating CFS and wellness initiatives, practitioners can partner with an experienced evaluation team to implement systems-based evaluation frameworks or appreciative methods like Ripple Effects Mapping that can help uncover unintended outcomes influencing the system.

Christina PetersonChristina Peterson (@foodkindness) is a PhD student in Evaluation, Statistics, and Measurement at the University of Tennessee. She is passionate about promoting sensible nutrition, inclusive communities and economic diversity through food system program and policy evaluation. Christina also has a MS in Nutrition and a BA in Economics. Prior to starting her PhD, she worked for a wellness non-profit conducting needs assessments, program evaluation and research on certification standards. Christina has worked and volunteered in many countries, including Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, Kenya, Spain, and Mexico. She is currently working as a Graduate Research Assistant for the Office of Information Technology Research Computing Support group. 


Tags:  Community wellness  Financial Wellness  food  food security 

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