Iowa Community Health AmeriCorps Members to support community gardens, summer food service programs across Central Iowa

posted on Thursday, May 5, 2016

DES MOINES, IA (May 5, 2016) – This summer, the Iowa Community Health AmeriCorps Program (ICHAP) will be supporting the health and wellness of Central Iowans with the help of the American Heart Association of Iowa, American Cancer Society, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation and United Way of Central Iowa.

“The Iowa Community Health AmeriCorps program with the Des Moines Public Schools will help strengthen important student wellness and farm-to-school strategies by connecting kids with healthy, local foods through the Summer Food Service Program and school gardens,” said Lyn Jenkins, Nutrition Education Specialist at Des Moines Public Schools.

Summer ICHAP members will be supporting a number of healthy food access projects including community gardens and summer food service program promotion. Specific projects include community outreach, developing and delivering educational programming, planting, harvesting and assisting with the maintenance and upkeep of the garden, and creating plans to help sustain the gardens in the future.

“Although many Iowans would like to adopt a healthy lifestyle, many encounter barriers that make it difficult to do so,” said Sara Comstock, a Health Systems Program Manager at the American Cancer Society in Des Moines. “Community gardens help bring healthy foods into communities and provide an opportunity for physical activity through gardening.

“It’s important to grow healthy food to fuel our bodies. By helping to improve and sustain school gardens, we at the American Heart Association feel like we can make a difference by partnering with the Healthiest State Initiative,” said Kayla Kovarna, Executive Director at the American Heart Association of Central Iowa. 

 “United Way of Central Iowa is really looking forward to providing some much-needed capacity to increase access to healthy fruits and vegetables,” said Erin Drinnin, Community Impact Officer of the United Way of Central Iowa. “Not only will this project make sure the school gardens are well-kept over the summer when school is out, but it will have a huge impact on students, parents, staff and neighbors who will be able to learn and eat from the garden year-round.” 


Drake University is a midsize, private university in Des Moines, Iowa, enrolling more than 3,300 undergraduate and 1,700 graduate students from 40 states and approximately 40 countries. Students choose from over 70 majors, minors, and concentrations and 20 graduate degrees offered through six colleges and schools. Drake students, faculty, and staff take advantage of the wealth of cultural, recreational, and business opportunities found in Iowa's capital city. In return, Drake enriches the city through its own cultural offerings, considerable economic impact, and many service-learning endeavors, which channel the talent and energy of the Drake students toward meeting the needs of the community.

The Healthiest State Initiative is a privately led, public effort that engages Iowans and their communities throughout the state. It involves individuals, families, businesses, faith-based organizations, not-for-profits and the public sector in a broad-based, community-focused effort. For more information, visit