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7 communities put health first in 2020

See their big wins

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s not to take our health for granted. The COVID-19 pandemic affected everyone’s way of life. And, while we all adapted our lifestyles to stay safe and help reduce the spread of the virus, seven communities in Iowa went above and beyond to improve the overall health of their residents.

Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Opens New Window works with communities, at no cost, to identify ways to make positive, lasting changes that enhance well-being. And, on Feb. 18, 2021, at the Healthiest State Initiative's Annual Awards External Site, these Iowa communities were recognized for the progress they made last year.

2021 Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award finalist highlights

Cass County

  • Started a mobile food pantry to deliver food to those in need.
  • Developed the Grow Another Row program that encouraged local gardeners to plant more and share with others through the local food pantry.
  • Installed 10 raised beds at the Mollet Park community garden.
  • Improved playgrounds and trails around Schildberg Recreation Area and Sunnyside Park.


  • Passed tobacco-free and nicotine-free policies for area businesses and municipal property.
  • Fixed up downtown green spaces for people to gather and maintain social distance.
  • Installed playground equipment at the Clarinda City Park that was suitable for all ages and abilities.


  • Planted the town's first community garden, which helped fight food insecurity at the local food pantry.
  • Started a mural project that paired young artists in the juvenile court system with peers and professional artists. 
  • Added a connecting trail extension to Taylor Park that improved safety for individuals with strollers and wheelchairs.

Dickinson County

  • Planted edible orchards and built an outdoor pantry to provide anyone access to produce at anytime of the day.
  • Developed and improved more than six miles of trails.
  • Produced 5,000 pounds of produce for residents and local pantries through community gardens.


  • Added a bike sculpture, lighting and volleyball court to Trestle Park.
  • Improved the ability to enforce sidewalk code, which will protect residents from poor sidewalk conditions.
  • Installed and paved an access point to the Nishnabotna River.


  • Implemented a nicotine-free parks policy.
  • Enhanced the downtown area near the Waterloo Urban Farmers Market, including sidewalk replacement and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant crosswalks.
  • Reduced the number of lanes at the University Avenue corridor, lowering the speed limit. 
  • Improved the look of University Avenue by installing pedestrian lighting, more than one mile of trail and sidewalk. 


  • Added six raised beds to the community-sharing gardens.
  • Improved the Cedar River Parkway corridor, including the reconstruction of the Cedar River Bridge.
  • Completed the Bremer Avenue streetscape project
  • Enhanced Prairie Park by adding a shelter house and pickleball courts. 

Take the next step toward health in your own community

Do you want to make any of these changes in your community? Learn how Healthy Hometown can help your community eat well, move more and feel better. Check out Healthy Hometown online Opens New Window or email Send Email for more information.