HEAL is to enhance where people eat, live, work and play -- to support healthy diets and active lifestyles through equitable efforts, innovative partnerships, and systems thinking approaches.
We believe that everyone should have access to opportunities that allow them to eat a healthy diet and live an active lifestyle. We use evidence-based approaches to promote a healthful diet and lifelong physical activity. We do so by educating individuals and families about nutrition and physical activity through direct education and social marketing messaging, as well as working with communities to establish and enhance policies, systems and environmental (PSE) changes that support healthy eating and active living.
Policy, Systems & Environmental
Policy, systems and environmental change is a way of modifying the environment to make healthy choices practical and available to all community members. By changing policies, systems and/or environments, communities can help tackle health issues like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic diseases. This program is for early care and education, K-12 schools, our communities and workplaces.
The 2022 HEAL Guide was designed to provide background information on policy, systems and environmental practices to improve nutrition and physical activity access and availability, implementation considerations for new or existing programs, ideas for sustainability and case studies describing how interventions can be adapted to diverse settings. These strategies focus on policy, systems and environmental change strategies (PSE).
PSE strategies address social, economic and environmental barriers to positive health outcomes by making the healthy choice more accessible to everyone. By changing the physical environment and policies that impact Iowans in these settings, a greater and more sustainable impact can be made. Examples:
- Providing and promoting places for people to be physically active may increase public use of these facilities as well as help boost people’s physical activity levels.
- Supporting breastfeeding in many different arenas, including hospitals and birth centers, worksites and communities.
- Increasing access to healthier foods and beverages in retail venues can happen in existing stores, encourage placement of new stores, improve transportation access to healthier food retailers and/or implement comprehensive instore markets and promotion.
- Ensuring that celebrations, events and rewards in schools, early care and education support health.
Primary funding for our work comes from the USDA Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP.