There was a heightened interest in nutrition in the early to mid 1970's. The general public awareness of nutrition and its relation to good health grew but there did not seem to be a place where interested people could go to get accurate and current nutrition information. In response to the growing demand, more nutrition programs and opportunities for nutrition education were developed and professionals and paraprofessionals became involved in nutrition education.
They found there did not seem to be a common meeting ground where educators, experienced and new, could exchange ideas, provide help and support for each other, discuss ways to promote good nutrition, and have a variety of educational opportunities.
With this in mind a group of NDSU faculty gathered, bantered needs and ideas around, and the concept of the North Dakota Nutrition Council were conceived. The first official organizational meeting of the NDNC was held June 6, 1978 in the Student Union at Minot State College. A total of 35 people attended.
The first slate of officers were elected at a business session during the April 20, 1979 multi-agency nutrition meeting entitled the "Year of the Child" held prior to the North Dakota Home Economics Association Women in Management Workshop. Sandra Adams was elected president, Pat Beck was elected president-elect, and Dr. Martin Marchello was elected secretary-treasurer.
The early purpose of NDNC as laid out in the motto, was to promote and distribute accurate and current nutrition information to the layman and the professional and to create an arena that encouraged dialogue between these groups. The purpose today remains substantially the same with the later addition of the words "to improve the nutritional health of North Dakotans".
The beginning goals of the NDNC were listed as:
- To develop nutrition information banks at designated sites throughout North Dakota.
- To encourage and support effective nutritional legislation.
- To create an awareness of potential job opportunities and careers related to nutrition.
- To encourage the hiring of a nutrition education coordinator or specialist who promotes effective nutrition education through various agencies to all North Dakotan citizens.
- To create an awareness of the nutritional value of North Dakota products and how to use these products.
- To evaluate existing food and nutrition programs, and services and make recommendations concerning the public interest.
- To reach people who are not trained in nutrition but who are dispensing nutrition information.
- To establish a clearinghouse of nutrition education resources.
- To sponsor and support seminars, symposiums, conferences and similar discussion in food and nutrition.
- To encourage graduate study in nutrition by awarding a scholarship for such study with available funds.
Within the first year the membership of NDNC had grown to nearly 100 individuals. In 2000 that was close to doubled. Both the original and the current membership represent a diverse group of people with a wide range of interests.
While the purpose remains virtually unchanged the method for accomplishing those goals has changed. For example, the initial bylaws listed an activity to develop nutrition resource centers throughout North Dakota. In 2000 a website has been developed to achieve the goal of sharing resources as well as for ease of communication.
The idea of the founders of NDNC was to make the organization as accessible as possible to as many people as it could. This was shown in the first bylaws when they stated that meetings would be held twice a year and would alternate between eastern and western geographic areas of the state and may be scheduled around meetings of related professional groups. To date meetings continue to be held at varying sites.
Pat Beck, Former Past President