5-2-1-0 Wins!

By Lauren Kollauf on Tuesday, January 15, 2019

 Dubuque makes big impact with 'bite-sized' 5-2-1-0 message 

Dubuque is one of Iowa's larger cities and boasts a bustling farmers market, many indoor and outdoor recreation opportunities and accessible health care for its nearly 60,000 residents.

Dubuque County also has an established Wellness Coalition and was "pretty advanced in wellness efforts" when the city was chosen to receive $18,000 to implement community-wide strategies around the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! campaign, said Jennifer Walker, project manager for the grant.

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"Dubuque was ready to run with this and that made it a good project," Walker said. The community liked 5-2-1-0's "bite-sized" and colorful message and the coalition already had a list of proposals on-deck that just needed additional funding.

Since utilizing the funds in 2018, Dubuque has seen success spreading the 5-2-1-0 message by working with partners that reach a large number of the city's citizens, such as schools, the YMCA/YWCA and health care organizations. And they are excited to share what they have planned for 2019.

Here are some of the 5-2-1-0 wins from Dubuque:

Educational greenhouse project

Walker looked for projects that were already underway when deciding how to best distribute the funds: The gardening club at Roosevelt Middle School had plans to build a greenhouse and outdoor learning lab that included curriculum and policy changes and was seeking funding.

The goal of the garden club is to increase student consumption of fruits and vegetables by including them in the growing process. They also hope to sample some of their harvest during school lunch periods. The project seemed like a natural fit for 5-2-1-0.


Construction of the greenhouse structure is now complete and is expected to open in Spring 2019. Students were excited to visit the greenhouse in January to start organizing the compost.

Support for pop-up food pantry

food pantry posterAnother in-need project within Dubuque Community School District was a food pantry at Lincoln Elementary. The food pantry was popular, but limited resources made it difficult to provide fresh food and store the pantry items. The 5-2-1-0 funds made it possible for the pantry to obtain additional shelving plus a commercial refrigerator and freezer.

"In the past there was no security that the food pantry would happen regularly," said Walker. "This allowed people to plan for the pantry. They saw a huge spike in the program."

Leveraging health care's reach

Medical Associates, the area's largest health care provider, was also eager to join the 5-2-1-0 efforts. In addition to adding the Healthy Choices Count! message to their electronic billboard promotions across the city, they used some grant funds to develop a program to help kids at-risk for obesity grow into healthier adults. Patients with higher BMIs were given activity tracker bands and instructions to help develop better habits.

What's next for Dubuque?

Dubuque has received another round of funding from IDPH for the current fiscal year, in addition to five more towns and one county. Plans for 2019 are already well underway, Walker said.

MORE 5-2-1-0 SUCCESS STORIES: West Union | Malvern

Since this grant was less than the previous fiscal year, Walker said she focused on projects where a smaller amount of money could still make a big difference. The funds were distributed between three organizations:

  • Holy Family Catholic Schools physical education teachers developed a running clinic, culminating in the school's annual Turkey Trot. The 5-2-1-0 message was communicated throughout the event and fresh fruit was served as a post-race snack. Holy Family also purchased ping pong tables and a water bottle refilling station for use on their campuses.
  • Crescent Community Health System, which provides health care to under or non-insured populations, plans to partner with local business Convivium Urban Farm Stead. Convivium will provide a healthy cooking class series, based on the "Good and Cheap" cookbook for people with limited incomes, for families served by Crescent. 
  • Challenge to Change is a locally-based yoga and meditation program that works with students and teachers in the Dubuque Community Public School District. With the grant funds, they plan to create a toolkit for students to use over the summer.

Dubuque by the numbers*:

  • 840 children and families impacted in child care 
  • >50,000 children and families reached in health care (including estimated reach from electronic billboard advertising)
  • 2,030 children and families reached in schools
  • 800 children and families reached in the community

*numbers reflect State Fiscal Year 2018