Rural Health Initiative: Kitchen Wellness Program
- Need: Preventive and chronic medical condition care for farm families/agribusiness owners/employees with time and monetary constraints.
- Intervention: Through a "Kitchen Wellness" program, a trained healthcare professional provides in-home or on-site complimentary preventive health screening, educational materials, and community referral information.
- Results: Completion of hundreds of health screenings, tailored health education sessions and referral information.
Established in 2004, the Rural Health
Initiative (RHI) is a nonprofit, community-supported
program designed to help remove the barriers of
understanding and managing health and healthcare for the
agricultural community. Through its unique concept of
"Kitchen Wellness", wellness services and health
information are offered in rural homes or businesses.
Services are free for adults in the agriculture
community, including crop and dairy farmers, other
agribusinesses, as well as individuals and employees
associated with agricultural enterprises, such as hoof
trimmers. Kitchen Wellness also reaches the Amish
community and Hispanic workers.
Assisting residents of Wisconsin's Shawano, Outagamie,
and Waupaca counties, the program is delivered by trained
Outreach Health Coordinators. These professionals come to
homes or businesses and conduct complimentary on-site
preventive health screenings. Key challenges this program
Culture of Farming
known to be selfless people, which often means their
health comes second to the health of their animals,
their crop planting, and their harvests since the
family's livelihood depends on these activities. RHI
team members provide a trusted ear and resource for
agriculture, primarily farmers, are accustomed to a
service delivery model that often comes to the farm,
like veterinary services and large equipment repair
services. However, society's current healthcare
delivery model is opposite. This contributes to lower
attendance rates within the healthcare system, and
often driven only by emergency needs. RHI's on-site
outreach offers a healthcare model that connects
farmers with basic health screening services.
carry independent insurance, often with high
deductibles. RHI's complimentary services remove the
barrier of cost.
terminology can often be confusing to people. RHI's
health coaching helps remove this barrier by explaining
health information in simple and easy-to-understand
RHI, a 501(c)3, is an effort supported by private and
Screening results for diabetes, heart disease, and
depression. Blood pressure measurements, height/weight
measurements to calculate body mass index (BMI).
Glucose and cholesterol screening using minimal blood
from a finger prick, allowing results in 10 minutes.
Education geared to abnormal test results or any topic
of interest; life-style optimization, including health
goal-setting; prevention information, screening, and
any desired health needs.
Referrals to community agencies that might assist in
reaching health goals, or for healthcare system
information; in addition to counseling and networking
services, financial planning, and agricultural
Health Risk Assessments (HRA)
Personalized Follow-Up Packet:
Based on test results and HRA results, a customized
education packet is provided 2-3 weeks after
To learn about how the Rural Health Initiative is
impacting county farm families, see the Fall 2012
National Rural Health Association Rural Roads
Farm Calls (pages 6-7, 9).
Sustainability is a barrier for new and existing
programs. The Rural Health Initiative is a nonprofit
organization and must compete with many other nonprofits
competing for funding.
The program originated in 2004 in Shawano County and in
2012, expanded to Outagamie and Waupaca counties. To read
about RHI's expansion to other counties, refer to this
Program coordinators recommend finding a healthcare
professional with a passion for agriculture and those
working in/associated with agriculture. Additionally,
individuals from communities served are seen as the local
experts and often are more easily approached for
The program website contains an RHI News, with
webcasts, radio interviews, television appearances,
annual reports, and press releases, as well as articles
published about the initiative. The Resources page
provides additional information on farm health, safety,
and health insurance, among other topics.
Rhonda Strebel, Executive Director
Corporate Office (inside ThedaCare Physicians – Shawano)
Culture and cultural competency
Farmers and farmworkers
Hispanic or Latino
Wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention
November 25, 2014
Date updated or reviewed
November 23, 2020
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
Rural Health Initiative: Kitchen Wellness Program [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 28 November 2023]
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information
about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s
needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.