Friday, December 16, 2016

Low-income families in Wapello County will receive free cooking classes, and senior citizens in Centerville will get new exercise equipment to keep healthy with the help of new grants from the University of Iowa.

The $3,000 grants from the UI College of Public Health and its Business Leadership Network will fund seven community-development projects with a public health angle in Fort Dodge, Fairfield, Centerville, Ottumwa, and Keosauqua. The grant-program funds are made in conjunction with an equal cash or in-kind match from another organization or business. Recipients include:

  • Athletics for Education and Success (AFES), Fort Dodge, to provide low-income, at-risk, and underserved adults and families safe and affordable fitness and social activities to help fight obesity, promote healthy choices, and improve quality of life
  • Carry On Bags (COB), Fairfield, to determine the most nutritional and effective food items for their program, which provides free supplemental meals for food-insecure children outside of school hours
  • Fort Dodge Senior High School, Fort Dodge. High school students will work to bring awareness to mental health issues and advance the well-being of youth through theatrical performances at K–12 schools, civic organizations, and conferences. Topics will include substance abuse and suicide prevention, anti-bullying, and diversity acceptance.
  • Main Street Ottumwa, Ottumwa, to build creative placemaking capacity; improve community livability; inspire collaboration among arts, public health, transportation, and economic development efforts; and develop a model for quick, cost-effective, creative placemaking
  • Rathbun Lake Area YMCA, Centerville, to sustain the health of seniors who have completed physical therapy in order to continue their employment, live independently, and stay engaged in their community. New fitness equipment will provide safe, low-impact workouts.
  • United Way of Wapello County, Ottumwa, to reduce diabetes and obesity by making healthy eating easier for families living in poverty. Free cooking classes, a free crockpot, and healthy recipes utilizing food items families receive from local food pantries and community gardens will be provided.
  • Van Buren County Hospital–Healthy Villages, Keosauqua, to provide health and wellness education to community members through adding instructional signage to new exercise stations along the newly built Riverfront Trail. Signs will also include educational tips, such as how to determine a target heart rate.

“We’re excited to support these locally initiated projects to improve community health,” says Sue Curry, dean of the College of Public Health. “The grant program is one way the college is partnering with communities and business leaders across the state to increase the well-being of Iowans.”

The Business Leadership Network (BLN) fosters ongoing relationships between the College of Public Health and small and medium-sized businesses and communities in Iowa. Through these relationships, the college engages and collaborates with communities to develop cutting-edge, high-impact public health research, enhance educational programs with service-learning opportunities within businesses, and promote a culture of health throughout communities.

This was the BLN’s second round of funding. More information about the program is available at