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5 Ways to Improve Health in Your Community

Living Healthy in DSM USA

February 24, 2020

Living a healthy lifestyle is more than eating well and exercising. Our health is most determined by where we live, access to healthy foods, safe opportunities to be active and an encouraging and supportive network.

The Well Kids of Central Iowa Coalition is a community-wide effort led by United Way of Central Iowa. Well Kids unites caregivers, educators, healthcare providers and community leaders to create and foster healthy environments. The Coalition promotes 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count, a statewide initiative that encourages families to practices these daily habits:

  • Eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies.
  • Spend less than 2 hours on recreational screen time.
  • Be active at least 1 hour.
  • Consume 0 sugary drinks.

A big part of this effort is changing our workplaces, schools, childcare centers, health care clinics and community gathering spaces to offer easier, cheaper healthy choices for families to follow 5-2-1-0. We encourage everyone to play their part in making Greater Des Moines (DSM) a healthful place to live. Here are five ways you can improve health in your community.

Make a Personal Commitment to Making 5-2-1-0 Choices Every Day

Serve meals and snacks with a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, drink water throughout the day, schedule chunks of time to be active throughout the day. When you’re committed, it will show the kids in your life the importance of making healthful choices — and it will make it easier to practice healthy habits with the kids in your life. Find tips and creative ideas at 5210dsm.org or follow @5210dsm on Facebook and Pinterest.

Engage in Your Workplace’s Efforts to Encourage Healthy Habits

Healthy workplaces support healthy employees and their families. Seek opportunities to join or start your workplace wellness committee. Encourage your workplace to offer healthy food and beverage options at meetings and events or in the cafeteria. Check out the 5-2-1-0 Action Guide for Workplaces to learn how to become a registered site and connect with other advocates.

Learn More About the Decisions Local Officials Are Making That Impact Your Environment

Many cities are considering proposals that focus on creating safe spaces to be active, including walking routes, trails and places to play. In DSM, MoveDSM is a master plan outlining and advancing work in transportation to create a complete and safe transportation network for users. The Well Kids Coalition is advancing initiatives like this one through our advocacy efforts. If you want to advocate alongside us and become a 5-2-1-0 Champion, sign up today!

Support, Give Healthy Food Options to Your Community

Join a community garden or your workplace’s Giving Garden to help harvest healthy foods to donate to local pantries. Don’t have a Giving Garden at your workplace? Connect with someone in your Human Resources department to find out how you can help start one.

When donating to food pantries, give healthier non-perishable options, like low-sodium canned food. If you’re serving food at an event, consider food rescue options for any leftovers — especially if you’re providing healthy options. Learn more about food rescue from Eat Greater Des Moines.

Seek Out Volunteer Opportunities That Engage Kids In Being Active or Reading

Help encourage kids to spend less time on screens and more time getting exercise and reading. United Way offers a variety of volunteer activities that support this effort. If you have school-age kids, encourage the school administrators to check out the free 5-2-1-0 resources available for schools and ask them to become a registered site.

Find more ways to practice 5-2-1-0 in your community and become a champion to make healthy choices count at 5210dsm.org.

Named as the #13 Best Place to Live in the U.S. and #7 Best City for Living the American Dream, Greater Des Moines (DSM) is the fastest growing metro in the Midwest. Learn more about what it’s like to live here.

Erin Drinnin

Erin Drinnin serves as the community impact officer of health for United Way of Central Iowa. Her work focuses on advancing United Way's mission of improving the livelihood of all Central Iowans by managing the development, implementation and evaluation of a community impact agenda in the focus area of health.