Malvern’s Healthy Transformation

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Community gardens, an open gym, pickleball and volleyball leagues and after-school activities are just a few of the healthy perks residents in Malvern, Iowa, are enjoying thanks to a 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count grant.


The Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency’s (MAPA) Community and Economic Development team helped Malvern apply for the grant and implement it.

The 5-2-1-0 program is designed to promote healthy eating and living. It encourages residents to have 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day; 2 hours or less of screen time; 1 hour or more of physical activity and zero sugary drinks.

Bike 1

In 2018, Malvern received $18,900 from the State of Iowa and used a majority of the money to rent, equip and open the Liberty Memorial Building. The historic building has a full gym that saw limited usage prior to the 5-2-1-0 grant. But since opening the gym for youth recreation, adult pickleball and volleyball leagues have started also.

Archway over the Wabash Trace

This year the city received a $10,000 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count Grant and plans to use most of the money to rent out the Liberty Memorial Building for physical activities for kids.

Malvern also used some of the money to expand its community gardens. That project serves two purposes, it beautifies downtown and gives residents access to locally-grown food.

Community Garden 3 Community Garden 2Main Street Malvern hanging flowers

The city also did a Block Talk with MAPA staff members. That’s an interactive approach to planning. Residents walked around their neighborhood and looked at what enhances and inhibits its walkability. After the walk ended participants discussed short and long term goals to make their community more accessible for everyone.

walk audit

MAPA planners are available to assist cities and counties with community and economic development needs.  To find out more contact Don Gross, MAPA Community and Economic Development Manager at or 402-444-6866, ext. 230.