5-2-1-0 WINS!

By Lauren Kollauf on Tuesday, February 25, 2020

5-2-1-0 grant reaches far and wide in Grinnell

Grinnell first learned last summer that their community would be receiving state funding to support the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! initiative. Since then, the community of about 9,000 in Poweshiek County, has wasted no time organizing, planning and already implementing projects and programs.

Grinnell is one of 14 communities across the state selected for Iowa Department of Public Health grants in FY20. Grinnell received $30,000 to develop and execute an action plan that supports and expands access to healthy choices throughout the community. 

RELATED: Meet the communities receiving 5-2-1-0 funding

“I love the common theme (5-2-1-0) that goes from school to after-school to child care all the way up to large employers to drive home the importance of health," said Chad Nath, executive director of LINK-Grinnell and member of the Grinnell grant steering committee. 

The committee consists of more than a dozen community members representing a variety of different sectors and organizations as well support from Region 6 Resource Partners to administer the grant. They meet monthly to share project updates and cultivate opportunities for collaboration.

MORE 5-2-1-0 SUCCESS:  Mount Ayr | Keosauqua | Mason City

"There are so many organizations in Grinnell that are working on ways to keep kids and families healthy, as well as workplaces," said Nikki Laug, Healthy Readers Taskforce coordinator and committee member. "Just finding a way to get those people together – (5-2-1-0) gave us a push to do that."

Grinnell's 5-2-1-0 Action Plan lists nearly 20 projects, impacting every sector of within the community. Here are some of the highlights:

Taste testing in elementary schools

All three elementary schools in Grinnell will begin incorporating monthly fruit and vegetable tasting opportunities with education in the classroom. In January, pears and spinach were featured.

“The reaction from adults is 'They’re not going to like that,’ but that’s not what happened," said Laug. "Almost every student tried it and many asked for more. They were excited to try it and eat it." 


Students and Davis Elementary in Grinnell give spinach and pears a thumbs up.

The project was proposed through the school district's food services so fruits and vegetables that are featured will also be placed on the menu or salad bar. So far, response has been positive, Laug said, with lunchroom staff reporting that kids are taking and eating the foods they recently tasted. 

Growing healthy food for the community

Grinnell already has a Giving Garden network in place, with nine community gardens planted and cared for by host sites including elementary schools, a church, parks and local hospital.

"Food grown in these gardens is completely, 100 percent free to the community," said Nath, adding that summer program students will help weed and harvest the garden. "You can take food any time you want."

Additional harvested food will be delivered to the local food pantry and senior center. The 5-2-1-0 grant will be used to support the sustainability of these gardens, fund improvements and update signage and materials to promote the Giving Gardens.

Moving more at an early age

To increase physical activity, the Grinnell Community Early Learning Center purchased materials to implement Move for Thought curriculum. Fitness and nutrition books have been added to the classroom libraries.

Sensory pathways have also been planned, or already installed, in all three Grinnell elementary schools. Sensory paths were a project previously proposed and supported by teachers at the school level, but 5-2-1-0 helped to provide the message, context and funding to make it happen.


Students at Davis Elementary in Grinnell demonstrate how to use the new sensory pathway.

Other 5-2-1-0 projects in Grinnell:

Other projects on the horizon for spring and summer in Grinnell include:

  • Mini Farmers Market at a local elementary school, in collaboration with the Local Foods Connection and ISU Extension.
  • Purchase portable playground equipment to use in various community areas, including city parks serviced by Grinnell Parks & Recreation.
  • Additional edible landscapes and beautification to be added to Ahrens Park walking and biking paths to encourage public use.

To see a full list of Grinnell's upcoming 5-2-1-0 projects, click here.

Learn more about 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! 

logo5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! is a health-focused movement for kids that’s under the nationally recognized program, 5-2-1-0. It all starts by encouraging them to eat and play the right way.

This proven, scientific method helps keep kids healthy by focusing on the importance of four habits:

  • 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables
  • 2 hours or less of screen time (television, computer, video games, phones, etc.)
  • 1 hour or more of physical activity
  • 0 (or reduce) sugar-sweetened beverages - drink more water!

To learn more about how you can get your community, workplace, school, health care clinic or child care site involved in 5-2-1-0, click here.