A rural Maxwell woman is one of the three individuals who has been named a finalist for Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative (HSI) awards.


Erin Drinnin, 40, who lives with her husband, Jason Jones, and their two daughters, Mabyn and Jade, on a farm north of Maxwell, said she’s been nominated for her work on “5210 — Healthy Choices Count!”


An employee of the United Way of Central Iowa, which covers Polk, Dallas and Warren counties, Drinnin said 5210 can be used anywhere. “It’s all about helping kids and families establish healthy habits and be able to implement them,” she said.


5210 was developed by the United Way of Central Iowa, and the numbers represent the following: 5, the number of servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day; 2, the hours of screen time you shouldn’t go over each day; 1, the hour of exercise you need each day; and 0, the amount of sugary drinks you should consume each day. Drinnin has shown leadership by bringing the 5210 message to communities and the state. She’s been very committed to the concept.


By partnering with the Healthiest State Initiative, United Way of Central Iowa was able to push the 5210 message out to a broader audience, and Drinnin said that was important. “Because we have a message that really resonates,” she said.


“We know these (the concepts in 5210) are important things,” she said, “it’s not that (people) don’t know — it’s the doing it that’s hard. People need resources and guidance.” And that’s why having a link from the IHS website (iowahealthieststate.com) and being on social media started to come into play as well. 5210 has all sorts of guidance and ideas to offer through its online and social media platforms, which include Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.


For example, Drinnin explained, when school is cancelled for a snow day, 5210 has ideas to help get your kids active. 5210 has healthy and easy recipes to make with your kids. And while much of the information with 5210 is directed at families and children, it is also of value to adults, and very much of value to institutions that deal with families and kids, like schools, YMCAs, child care centers, etc.


Drinnin was also successful in creating a coalition for 5210 through United Way of Central Iowa, where she brought in people from various walks of life to talk about youth and health issues. “We have a lot of pediatricians, educators, child care providers, people working at the YMCA and others who are now engaged together in conversation, and wouldn’t have met outside of this coalition,” she said.


Drinnin has been very excited about how organizations and partners have come together to have meaningful discussions, because, she notes, “we might be sending different messages (when it comes to health) … so (the coalition seeks to find out) how do we all come together and try to support kids and families and at a minimum, know that we are all sharing the same message?”


The really great thing about 5210, Drinnin said, is that it is research-based. The information given through 5210 can be trusted.


“It’s been neat to see how well everyone has embraced the message,” she said. “We get lots of feedback.” She also wants people to know that it’s not a “one size fits all” program; each entity may find different ways to use the strategies.


Working on something like 5210 has been especially satisfying for Drinnin, because she works on ideas for health at home with her family. Getting vegetables is something that isn’t as hard for her family, because Jason happens to be an organic vegetable farmer — his farm is called Star Grass Farm. When it comes to veggies, Mabyn, a sixth-grader at Nevada Middle School, has an “expanded taste,” her mother said. Her favorite is artichokes. Jade, who is in second grade at Central Elementary School in Nevada, loves peppers, which probably aren’t real popular among most kids her age.


When it comes to exercise, Drinnin said, “I face the same struggle as every other parent.” And the answer most often at the Drinnin household is “dance parties — we turn on the music and just dance; there’s no structure to it.” She also admits that even though her kids are good with vegetables, it can still be hard to get them to fit in the five servings of fruits and vegetables needed every day. One of the best answers at their house — smoothies.


Drinnin said she looks forward to attending the HSI’s inaugural award event on Feb. 15 at the Ron Pearson Center in West Des Moines, where winners in five categories — individual, small workplace, large workplace, community (Ames is nominated) and schools — will receive a monetary gift to continue their work. Jamie Pollard, director of athletics at Iowa State University, will deliver the keynote address at the event.


Drinnin said the most exciting part to her about attending will be to hear about the work that all the other nominees are doing.


And whether she wins the individual award or not, she hopes that 5210 is at the beginning of the work it has left to do. “I’d love to see this program continually expand.”