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Wellmark Foundation grant funds childhood obesity project in Linn County

Grant, chosen from 150 requests, targets 40 child care centers

February 15, 2011

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(Des Moines, Iowa) – Linn County Public Health will use a two-year, $150,000 grant from the Wellmark Foundation to implement a childhood obesity prevention project in child care centers across the county.

The Healthy Footsteps Project targets preschool-aged children who attend child care centers, and their families, to decrease the unusually high body mass index (BMI) rates of children in Linn County. The effort will ultimately lead to an overall reduction in at-risk and overweight kindergarten students.

Healthy Footsteps will address multiple levels of influence that contribute to childhood obesity. Program goals include:

  • Improving nutrition and physical activity policies in child care centers
  • Educating child care staff and children about nutrition and physical activity
  • Empowering parents to offer healthy foods and exercise opportunities at home

Partners include Hawkeye Area Community Action Program, Linn County Community Empowerment Board, the Healthy Linn Care Network and the Healthy Living Coalition.

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 Linn County Public Health represents 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.

“Parents and child care providers can make a big difference in kids’ health by encouraging healthy behaviors,” says Matt McGarvey, the Foundation’s director. “Improving nutrition and physical activity at the preschool age offers benefits that will last a lifetime.”

About Linn County Health Department
With nearly 200,000 residents, Linn County is the second most populous county in the state of Iowa. There are 18 incorporated communities and 11 villages. Linn County Health Department specifically exists to prevent disease and injury, promote healthy behavior, and protect the public and their environment.

For more information on the Linn County Health Department, contact Dave Koch, (319) 892-6080 / For more information regarding the Wellmark Foundation and its grant programs, visit




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