Dubuque Eats Well- Dubuque, IA

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Project at a Glance

  • Issue Area Economic development, Education and youth, Health equity
  • Engagement Approaches Commissions/taskforces, Partnering with residents, Visioning/ strategic planning, Youth Engagement
Project Description

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Dubuque Eats Well 

After being ranked last in the nation in terms of fruit and vegetable consumption and with obesity being named as a top community health concern, Dubuque residents identified Healthy Local Foods as one of twelve Sustainable Dubuque principles during a community visioning process.


  • To advance local food system development in the Greater Dubuque area.

Project Summary:
To combat the rising obesity rate and lack of healthy eating habits, Dubuque developed a collective impact model to increase healthy food access that capitalized on grassroots work in the community. A Regional Food Coordinator was hired in 2012, and the Dubuque Eats Well (DEW) coalition was formed.

DEW is a network of area organizations and community members working to advance local food system development in the Greater Dubuque area. DEW completed the community’s first Food System Assessment in 2015 and began forming working groups to address the gaps identified. DEW has since implemented several healthy eating initiatives, including:

Double Up Food Bucks- provides Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) users with a dollar-for-dollar match for purchasing local fresh fruits and vegetables at the market from local farmers.

Dubuque Rescue Mission Community Garden– provides produce for the kitchen of a men’s homeless shelter in downtown.

Dubuque Community Garden Collaboration– a partnership of community gardeners who share resources and work together to expand opportunities to grow food in Dubuque.

Convivium Urban Farmstead– transformed a derelict greenhouse into an urban farm and began reaching out to neighbors to plant small raised beds in their yards to provide accessible produce.

School Based Food Pantries– provide fully functioning pantries to local schools that distribute fresh produce, dairy, meats, grains and dry products.

Meals for Summer Reading & Recreation Programs– Boys & Girls Club partnered with United Way to serve over 17,000 meals during summer programs.

Multicultural Family Center (MFC)– hosts individuals from around the world who share experiences and cook together. MFC also serves as a food pantry.

Engagement Strategies:

  • A community visioning process was conducted and named healthy eating as a key priority.
  • A coalition of community stakeholders was formed to develop goals and various programs.
  • Schools, businesses, nonprofits and the city collaborated on healthy living initiatives.


  • SNAP voucher distribution increased by 24% and attracted 74 new users.
  • Over $12,831 from SNAP recipients was redirected to local farmers.
  • Vegetable consumption has increased by 40% for homeless shelter residents.
  • The school food bank program provided 2,588 individuals (547 families) with food resources that lead to healthy living and learning.
  • The Boys & Girls Club partnered with United Way to serve over 17,000 meals through the city’s playground program
  • DEW also successfully lobbied Dubuque County to establish the Dubuque County Food Policy Council and allocate $25,000 in funding for institutional and system-level improvements.

Additional Resources:
Dubuque, IA- 2019 AAC Winner: Presentation

Local Contact:
Michaela Freiburger
Dubuque Main Street
(563) 588-4400
[email protected]

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