Iowa Stops Hunger and 5-2-1-0 Healthy Communities Announced

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces two initiatives focused on healthy habits, nutrition and addressing food insecurity for Iowa families. “Though these programs have different goals and execution, helping Iowa families and communities lead healthier lives is deeply embedded in the HHS mission. Food insecurity, exacerbated by the rising cost of food and an increasing rate of obesity in Iowa drive the need for HHS to focus our attention on nutrition and health education. Through these programs, we reach Iowans in in 20 counties with programming that is collaborative, targeted and measurable,” said HHS Director Kelly Garcia.

Iowa Stops Hunger Pilot Program

Iowa Stops Hunger is a statewide initiative formed by Business Publications Corporation (BPC) in 2020 to bring 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 connected participants from the business and nonprofit communities across the state. 

The dialogue generated throughout 2020 and 2021 sparked interest in further action. A small group led by Hy-Vee, Mom's Meals and HHS, facilitated by BPC, have joined forces 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 between the ages of 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 who are in the workforce at 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 be providing coordination, food and nutrition education and support. BPC is assisting with Coalition facilitation and communications support. Iowa Medicaid will administer the pilot.

The program includes short-term food insecurity stabilization and resources and longer-term food and nutrition access and education. The pilot will focus on women ages 21-44 in eight Iowa counties who have indicated that they are experiencing food insecurity.

Counties include:

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

Participating counties were identified by HHS through analysis of screenings which showed a higher-than-average rate of 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 moms with kids will help address the systemic challenges families often face.

5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count!

HHS also announces $265,000 in grants to 15 counties across Iowa through 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! — an evidence-based prevention framework for early care and education programs, K-12 schools, out-of-school programs and health care practices to encourage Iowa kids 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 zero 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 at a local park in Scranton, expanded recreation offerings (snowshoes and disc golf set) 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 about how communities are using their funding, visit

Iowa Stops Hunger Media Contact: Suzanna DeBaca: