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Wellmark Foundation grant funds 13 health improvement projects in Iowa

Grant, chosen from 150 requests, focus on childhood obesity and wellness

February 15, 2011

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(Des Moines, Iowa) – The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque will use a two-year, $149,000 grant from The Wellmark Foundation to implement a childhood obesity prevention program in six northeast Iowa counties.

Make every choice a healthy choice
Investing in School Wellness and Messaging to Create Healthy Communities in Northeast Iowa will promote healthy lifestyles in 20 northeast Iowa school districts. The program will target 15,500 students in grades K-12, their parents, other caregivers and key school personnel at schools throughout Allamakee, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek Counties.

The program, a collaborative effort guided by the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative, aims to reduce childhood obesity by promoting physical activity, and increasing access to healthy, locally grown food in the rural six-county area. Objectives include:

  • Empowering youth to serve as advocates for health and wellness
  • Encouraging northeast Iowa schools to create policies that indicate preference for procuring local food
  • Increasing the number of children who walk or ride bikes to school by 35 percent

Strategies include developing school wellness teams to drive policy and practice changes that support wellness for youth, and implementing a regional multi-media campaign focusing on making every choice a healthy choice.

Grant one of only 17 competitively selected
The Wellmark Foundation is a non-profit foundation that seeks to improve the health of Iowans, South Dakotans, and their communities. Through its 2010 Healthy Communities Grant Program, the Foundation received nearly 150 grant requests. This grant award to the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque is one of 17 competitively awarded to establish or expand health initiatives throughout Iowa and South Dakota.

Cumulatively, The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award $1,334,817 to these 17 grants to serve as catalyst funding for local health projects.

“The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative has a strong track record of designing health promotion programs for rural communities,” says Matt McGarvey, the Foundation’s director. “Encouraging young people to move more and eat better can have a significant impact in reducing childhood obesity.”

For more information on Investing in School Wellness and Messaging to Create Healthy Communities in Northeast Iowa, contact Ann Mansfield at or 563-382-2949. For more information regarding the Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit

About the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative
The Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative represents a coalition of diverse stakeholders focused on creating opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity in a rural, geographically spread region. As a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food & Fitness Initiative project site, the Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Coalition is one of the only rural models nationally funded to prove that strong collaboration can help achieve the vision of a healthier, more sustainable community.




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