By Lauren Kollauf on Wednesday, January 8, 2020

20+ of our favorite success stories from 2019

2019 was an exciting year for 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count!

Over the course of the year, 133 schools, 109 early care providers and 33 out-of-school programs signed up to become a 5-2-1-0 Registered Site and committed to making the healthy choice the easy choice for their students.


YWCA Youth Development in Clinton incorporated 5-2-1-0 into their after-school programming in 2019.

We are so proud of all of our 5-2-1-0 Registered Sites and the efforts they have made this year! We asked for some of your success stories from the past year and nearly 100 sites replied. Your responses demonstrate that small steps can make a big impact! 

We wanted to share just some of the successes – in their own words – with you:

1. Growing – and sharing! – fresh produce

"Kids assisted in planting a garden, harvesting and packaging fresh produce to be placed in the produce stand to be shared with families at the center."

— Mary O’Kones, Kaleidoscope Kids in West Union

2. Using 5-2-1-0 to walk the talk

"When touring families, we are able to talk more about our promise to provide a healthy place for children, and their families. This really sets us apart in our area."

— Kelena Bonnell, Pleasant Hill Kinder Care

3. Inspiring kids and adults

"As a staff, we track physical activity and meals on a weekly sheet and help encourage each other to push forward to take care of ourselves better so we can take care of our students."

— Brenda Adams, Family Resource Center in Mount Ayr

4. Poster power!

"I have had numerous families comment on how they have seen the 5-2-1-0 posters and, therefore, limit the screen time and work to have more activity time with their family."

— Keli Morgan, Head Start in Mt. Pleasant

5. Include families in 5-2-1-0

"At our Family Fun Night, we served healthy snacks (fruit kabobs, veggie tray, water) and had physical activity games to participate in. We also handed out 5-A-Day bands to families."

— Holly Rash, Decatur County Schools

6. One bite ate a time

"We have been working on having one bite testing of food during this past year. It seems to be working on getting children to try different/new foods."

— Jodi Muñoz, Busytime Daycare in Storm Lake


Little Adventures in Grimes tries new foods multiple times for greater chances of acceptance.

7. Making the healthy choice...

"We have limited the sugary snacks at our snack time. Now when they are given a choice between a sugary snack and a healthier snack, they choose the healthy snack."

—  Trisha Steffen, E-I-E-I-O Childcare in Crawford

8. ...the easy choice!

"Having water bottle fill stations throughout the school encourages high school students to drink more water throughout the school day."

—  Holly Friederich, Garner-Hayfield-Ventura High School

"We started providing reusable water bottles for each child to ensure water availability at all times."

— Cherie Cerveny, Greene County Early Learning Center

9. Simple swaps

"Since joining 5-2-1-0, the children and I have done a lot more experimenting with healthy foods, such as green bean fries and zucchini fries vs. French fries, zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead of noodles."

— Kathy Miller, Country Cuddles in Kiron

10. Getting the wiggles out!

"We introduced kids exercise programs to our daily schedule and the kids and staff love it. Not only are they having fun doing it, they are getting exercise and burning off some excess energy."

— Amanda Wragge, Helping Hands in Sioux City

LEARN MORE: Access free 5-2-1-0 resources

11. Take the pledge

"In P.E., each class has made a pledge to work on the 5-2-1-0 healthy habits. We started with the Healthiest State Annual Walk and the kids were very excited. Some have told me they already have stopped drinking soda and juice."

— Joe Graf, Shimek Elementary in Iowa City

12. Celebrating physical activity

"Our All-School Fun Activity Day at the end of the year was spent celebrating our successful walking club results (over 500 miles logged). The entire morning was spent by classes moving from one fun action activity to another."

— Cindi Sweedler, Northeast Hamilton Elementary

13. Adding alternative seating

"All of secondary campus now has standing desks, Rukus chairs, high chairs – many options for students to be active in the class with the use of these new furniture items."

— Laura Johnson, Norwalk Middle School

14. Taking the habits home

"Several families have planted gardens this year because they have seen how enthusiastic their children are about our school garden. They are seeing their children trying new foods because they helped to grow those foods."

— Bobbie Nelson, Bright Beginnings in Coralville


St. Cecilia School in Ames uses produce grown in their garden for taste-testing activities.

15. Making physical activity accessible

"We have created a 'user friendly' fitness center open to students and staff during certain times after school when no other activities are going on in the gym area."

— Chris Ehlert, Marshalltown High School

"Our school parents host a Wildcat Workout for kids three times a week before school."

— Shari Ambrose, Community Lutheran School in Readlyn

16. 5-A-Day Fruit & Veggie Bands are a hit! 

"When we got the 5-A-Day Fruit & Veggie Bands, the kids loved it! They all had a contest to see who could get their bands on the other wrist first. This really encouraged others to participate and ask their parents for healthy lunch and snack options."

— Madison Stifel, YMCA Brookview Before and After School

17. Caught doing something healthy

"Kids got so excited to receive 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices cards when being caught eating a fruit or veggie or filling up their water bottle. It was fun to see that kids encouraged their families to pack them fruits and veggies."

— Amber Baessler, YMCA Eason Before and After School

18. Adding fun (and healthy) programming

"As a library we encourage our patrons to walk around our neighborhood with a book on the trail, putting a page to read every few feet. We do a Run and Read after school program every Tuesday and a healthy cooking class once a month."

— Amber Dischler, JJ Hands Library After-School Program in Lohrville

19. Generating excitement with events

"We ended up having over 1,000 students and staff participate in the Hy-Vee KidsFit assembly at the UNI Dome. What's even better is it is sustainable because students can go online to participate in the program year-round."

— Cory Arensdorf, Irving Elementary in Waterloo

20. Menu remodel

"We are in the process of redesigning menu choices for students to encourage fewer packaged/processed foods to demonstrate healthy choices students can make outside of the school environment."

— Sadie Vorbrich, Madrid Junior/Senior High School

Become a 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! Registered Site:

registeredSchools, early care providers, out-of-school programs and health care sites are invited to sign up as a 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! site and join an important network of sectors working towards healthier environments where young Iowans live, learn and play.

Registration is free and easy! Benefits include access to an exclusive newsletter, eligibility to apply for future awards and recognition at state-level events. Learn more here.