Life used to be a lot simpler. Kids played outside without encouragement, and “screen time” wasn’t even a phrase. But in the 21st century, raising, teaching or caring for kids is more complicated. It can be difficult to know what’s best for kids’ health or what limits to set for them. Fortunately, the Let's Go! 5-2-1-0 program provides an easy-to-remember set of guidelines.

United Way of Central Iowa is proud to implement our own local awareness campaign and program initiatives for Let's Go! 5-2-1-0, a nationally recognized childhood-obesity prevention program. The main goal of the program is to influence policy and environmental change so that kids can live healthy lives. Here’s what the numbers stand for:


Partnering with Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, United Way has implemented the 5-2-1-0 program in eight child care and after-school programs and four elementary schools, with a focus on low-income neighborhoods. The 5-2-1-0 coordinator helps each school or child care provider complete an assessment of their current policies and practices, then collaborates on a plan that best matches the needs of the staff, kids and parents.

Initiatives include:

  • Offering healthier options in vending machines
  • Adding indoor play equipment
  • Increasing kids’ access to water
  • Providing blenders for healthy smoothies
  • Changing birthday celebrations to reduce sugar intake
  • Providing nutrition education to staff to help them act as healthy role models
  • Hosting family nights with fun, interactive ways to learn more about 5-2-1-0
  • Promoting breast feeding for mothers

United Way of Central Iowa is planning to expand 5-2-1-0 to more programs and schools and to offer educational resources to parents when they visit pediatricians’ offices.

To this end, Prairie Meadows has awarded United Way of Central Iowa a $15,000 grant to continue the 5-2-1-0 work.

Starting in January 2016, the Wellmark Foundation also provided a two-year match grant for the elementary school component of the program. The Health and Education Cabinets of United Way of Central Iowa furnish the remainder of the funding for the 5-2-1-0 program.

We appreciate Prairie Meadows’ and Wellmark's commitment to improving the health of kids in our community. These grants will help is to achieve our community impact health goal for 2020: to increase central Iowa’s Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index score to 64.5.

For resources to share with your family, child care provider or school, visit


TAGS: Health

Erin Drinnin

About The Author: Erin Drinnin

Erin Drinnin is United Way's Community Impact Officer for Health.