Optimizing Key Assistance Programs in Iowa

We’re providing comprehensive evaluation and technical support services across a variety of the state’s programming focused on low-income women, children, and families.

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Altarum supports the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in providing evaluation and research support to the SNAP-Ed, WIC, and obesity prevention programs as well as providing strategic planning support for Iowa’s Early Care and Education Stakeholder Group.

Our Approach

We have worked closely with DHHS to understand their data and evaluation needs for WIC, SNAP-Ed, obesity prevention programming, and early care and education. Using our expertise in these areas, we have utilized a mixed-methods approach drawing on Altarum’s food and nutrition expertise and evaluation skills to develop customized solutions that will provide the state with actionable information they can use to improve their services and programming.


To date, we have provided DHHS with information to help them optimize key programs aimed at improving the lives of Iowans. These include:

  • compiling a nutrition and physical activity data report along with 5 corresponding infographics to illustrate results to the public;
  • summarizing and describing Iowa WIC participant and program data for 2018-2020 to assist Iowa in identifying priority populations for WIC outreach and services;
  • preparing monthly briefings highlighting WIC food redemption and utilization data to assess redemption patterns and trends;
  • preparing an impact study design and protocol to assess the impact of the “Pick a Better Snack”TM nutrition education program implemented in schools;
  • conducting a survey of the general Iowa population to assess perceptions of WIC fraud;
  • conducting 8 focus groups with WIC participants to assess Iowa WIC participants’ experiences with, and perceptions of, fraud;
  • conducting a literature review and in-depth environmental scan across all 50 states and several cities and regions to identify information on food policy networks, food charters, State Nutrition Action councils, and policy, systems, and environmental change best practices;
  • developing a plan to evaluate the 5-2-1-0 obesity prevention program being conducted in Iowa communities, schools, and early care and education sites; and
  • facilitating a strategic planning process with Iowa’s Early Care and Education Stakeholder Group.

Optimizing Key Assistance Programs in Iowa Contact

Contact Us

Karah Mantinan

Karah Mantinan  - MPH, RD

Program Director, Food and Nutrition

Areas of Expertise
  • Food and Nutrition Programs
  • Mixed-Methods Evaluation Study Design and Implementation
  • Environmental Assessments and Literature Reviews

Karah oversees a portfolio of evaluation, training, and technical assistance initiatives designed to increase access to healthy food and opportunities for physical activity. She has over 15 years of experience designing and leading mixed-methods evaluation studies, developing resources to support and improve project implementation, and effectively communicating results to stakeholders in ways that are meaningful and actionable. Karah is passionate about using data to inform decision-making and improve health equity, outcomes, and efficiency. She has a master of public health degree in nutrition from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a bachelor of science degree in nutritional sciences from Michigan State University, and is a registered dietitian.

Brent Walker

Brent Walker  - MS, RD

Senior Associate, Food and Nutrition

Areas of Expertise
  • Evaluation of Nutrition Programs
  • Training and Technical Assistance
  • Project Management

With over 20 years of experience in nutrition and dietetics, Brent Walker has been a senior associate with Altarum since 2012 where he directs state-funded WIC and SNAP-Ed projects that evaluate nutrition interventions and social marketing campaigns. Prior to Altarum, Brent worked for 10 years with the California WIC Program at the state and local levels. Brent holds undergraduate degrees in biology and nutrition, completed his dietetic internship and master of science degree at Saint Louis University, and is a registered dietitian.