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Iowa communities leading the way toward better health

Success stories

This article was last updated on June 3, 2020.

A diet full of fruits and vegetables helps reduce chronic disease risk, yet 90 percent of adults External Site don't get the recommended intake. Regular exercise helps manage weight and reduces risk of disease, yet only one in three adults External Site get an ideal amount of physical activity each week.

So, how do you help people make healthier choices? By setting up the environment to make the healthy choice the easy choice, so we don’t have to rely on sheer willpower. Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Opens New Window can help communities take action to make this happen. There are three paths communities can follow to make improvements: eat well, move more and feel better. Whether it’s planting community gardens, making a town more walkable or encouraging residents to volunteer, Healthy Hometown can help your community. Healthy Hometown works with communities at no cost to identify ways to make positive, lasting changes that enhance well-being. It's already working with more than 70 communities across Iowa and South Dakota.

On Feb. 6, 2020, during the Healthiest State Initiative's Annual Awards External Site, seven Iowa communities were recognized for the progress they made in the last year.

2020 Healthy HometownSM Powered by Wellmark Community Award Finalist Highlights

The seven finalists were: Creston, Dallas Center, Dickinson County, Manning, Washington, Waverly and West Union. Here is a sample of the work these communities have done to help their residents eat well, move more and feel better.

Eat Well

  • Established or expanded community and/or school gardens, bringing together students and volunteers, and providing fresh produce to those who need it.
  • Added water bottle filling stations throughout the community and along trails to increase access to drinking water.

Move More

  • Implemented traffic calming measures to improve pedestrian safety, including painting continental-style crosswalks, installing rapid-flashing pedestrian crossing lights, and reconfiguring a busy roadway, making it three lanes with a center turn lane instead of four.
  • Enhanced trails to include additional connections, new paving and new crossings, increasing the safety, access and usability for residents.

Feel Better

  • Adopted or modified a tobacco- and nicotine-free policy to include vaping for all community parks, trails and city properties, allowing residents to enjoy these areas without being exposed to secondhand smoke and vapors.
  • Transformed a vacant outdoor space into a serene area for people to gather and socialize.

Get started in your own community today

Inspired by these finalists' success? 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.

To learn more about this year's winners, check out these articles: