A new public-private pilot program that builds off Business Publications Corp.’s Iowa Stops Hunger initiative will target food-insecure women who may not qualify for assistance, the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services announced today.

The Iowa Stops Hunger Coalition will launch programming for women between the ages of 21 and 44, many of whom are moms who work low-wage jobs or have left the workforce, and may not qualify for SNAP, WIC or free or reduced-price lunch programs. The timeline for the pilot project is being finalized by the public-private coalition, made up of the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, BPC, Hy-Vee and Mom’s Meals.

Business Publications Corp. and its publications, including the Business Record, dsm magazine and ia magazine, began Iowa Stops Hunger in 2020 as the number of people experiencing food insecurity increased during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic. The goal was to raise attention to those who are food insecure and focus on those who have made it their mission to help.

According to a news release announcing the pilot project, the dialogue that was generated through Iowa Stops Hunger built interest in taking further action and led to the formation of the public-private partnership to offer targeted programming to reduce food insecurity statewide.

“Those of us at BPC are very pleased that the partnership of public, private and agency organizations has emerged from our Iowa Stops Hunger conversations, moving them from awareness to action to fight food insecurity,” said Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of BPC.

Tim Conroy, national vice president for government and health care partnerships at Mom’s Meals, said, “As an Iowa-based company committed to the nutritional health and well-being of individuals across the country, Mom’s Meals is proud to be part of this effort.”

“With leadership from Iowa DHS working across the public and private sector, ensuring every Iowan can access and consume the types of food necessary for better health and well-being is core to our mission,” he said.

Tina Potthoff, senior vice president of communications for Hy-Vee, said the grocer is proud to be part of the important work of fighting food insecurity.

“As a major grocer in Iowa and a significant community partner in helping to feed those in need, we appreciate being a part of the coalition and engaging in actions and conversations that we believe will drive measurable and impactful results," she said.

Counties that will participate in the pilot program are Clinton, Polk, Blackhawk, Pottawattamie, Des Moines, Woodbury, Linn and Jones. They were selected through a state analysis of screenings, which showed a higher level of food insecurity in those areas. An estimated 23,000 people have been identified as part of the pilot.

Kelly Garcia, state health and human services director, said, “Helping Iowa families and communities lead healthier lives is deeply embedded in the HHS mission.”

“Food insecurity, exacerbated by the rising cost of food and an increasing rate of obesity in Iowa, drive the need for HHS to focus our attention on nutrition and health education,” she said.  “Through these programs, we reach Iowans … with programming that is collaborative, targeted and measurable.”

The health and human services department also announced $265,000 in grants to 15 counties through 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Counts. Officials said the initiative is an “evidence-based prevention framework” to encourage children to adopt healthy habits. A full list of recipients can be found on the department website.