Iowa HHS Announces Nutrition and Food Insecurity Initiatives

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing two initiatives focused on healthy habits, nutrition and addressing food insecurity for Iowa families. “While these programs have different goals and execution, it is deeply rooted in the HHS mission to help Iowa families and communities live healthier lives. Food insecurity, exacerbated by rising food costs and a rising rate of obesity in Iowa, drives the need for HHS focuses our attention on nutrition and health education. Through these programs, we reach Iowans in 20 counties with programming that is collaborative, targeted and measurable,” said HHS Director Kelly Garcia.

Iowa ends hunger pilot program

Iowa Stops Hunger is a statewide initiative established by the Business Publications Corporation (BPC) in 2020 to create awareness and inspire action to combat food insecurity in Iowa. With the support of Presenting Sponsor Hy-Vee and Supporting Sponsor Mom’s Meals, Iowa Stops Hunger has explored hunger in Iowa, created ongoing media content and events to discuss food insecurity in Iowa, showcased actions taken by businesses and affiliated participants from the business and nonprofit communities across the state.

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The dialogue generated in 2020 and 2021 sparked interest in further action. A small group led by Hy-Vee, Mom’s Meals and HHS, led by BPC, has joined in a public/private coalition to reduce food insecurity in Iowa through targeted programming. The Iowa Stops Hunger Coalition will launch a pilot program targeting women ages 21-44 who are food insecure but may not qualify for SNAP, WIC or Free and Reduced Lunch programs. Many of these women are young mothers working low-wage jobs or who have left the workforce, making this project of particular relevance to Iowa employers.

The pilot project timeline is being finalized by the public/private coalition. Managed Care Medicaid providers Amerigroup Iowa, Iowa Total Care and Molina Healthcare will provide outreach and coordination of services with community-based nutrition partners including each of the Iowa area food banks. Hy-Vee and Mom’s Meals will provide coordination, food and nutrition education and support. BPC assists with coalition support and communications support. Iowa Medicaid will administer the pilot.

The program includes short-term stabilization and resourcing of food insecurity and long-term food and nutrition access and education. The pilot will focus on women ages 21-44 in eight Iowa counties who have indicated they experience food insecurity.

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Counties include:

  • Clinton County
  • Polk County
  • Blackhawk County
  • Pottawattamie County
  • Des Moines County
  • Woodbury County
  • Linen
  • Jones

Participating counties were identified by HHS through analysis of screenings that showed higher than average food insecurity for residents. The selected counties represent a statewide cross-section of rural and urban populations. An estimated 23,000 individuals are identified as part of the pilot. Specifically targeting mothers with children will help address the systemic challenges that families often face.

5-2-1-0 Healthy choices count!

HHS is also announcing $265,000 in grants to 15 counties across Iowa through the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! — An evidence-based prevention framework for early care and education programs, K-12, after-school programs and health care practices to encourage Iowa children to adopt healthy habits.

Since 2017, the program has used five servings of vegetables, two hours of fun screen time, 1 hour of physical activity and no sugary drinks as a guide to encourage communities to find ways to eat healthy foods and increase physical activity. Past projects around Iowa include: a StoryWalk® installed in a local park in Scranton, expanded recreational offerings (snowshoes and disc golf sets) for community members to rent in Sergeant Bluff, and an installation of ADA-compliant water stations around Winterset. See previously funded projects here.

The following grants were awarded to Iowa communities for 2023:

First Year $30,000 Awards

  • Davenport, Scott County
  • Olin/Anamosa, Jones County
  • Perry, Dallas County
  • Sioux City, Woodbury County
  • Tama/Toledo, Tama County

Second Year $15,000 Awards

  • Centerville, Appanoose County
  • Keokuk, Lee County
  • Leon, Decatur County
  • Oskaloosa, Mahaska County
  • Postville, Allamakee County

Third Year $8,0000 Awards

  • Ottumwa, Wapello County
  • Scranton, Greene County
  • Sergeant Bluff, Woodbury County
  • Spencer, Clay County
  • Winterset, Madison County

For more information on how communities use their funding, visit

Iowa Stops Hunger Media Contact: Suzanna DeBaca: [email protected]


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