Capturing the History of Nutrition Education “Footsteps for Future Generations” | Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB)

Capturing the History of Nutrition Education “Footsteps for Future Generations”

Posted by: on Friday September 22, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS (September 21, 2023) – For over 50 years, the focus of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) has been to support nutrition educators by promoting quality research, effective programs, and sound policies to help ensure good nutrition for all. To honor this important contribution to the public’s health, the SNEB Foundation launched a history project with a glimpse into the Society’s past—how and why the SNEB began and how members have been, and continue to be, a driving force in the evolution of nutrition education as a profession.

FrancesColettaYoung, PhD, RD, newly appointed History Officer of the SNEB Foundation Board of Trustees and longtime SNEB member, is spearheading the History Committee. “This history project will help us learn from the past, to build upon what has already been accomplished, and to shape the future of the profession,” explains Coletta Young.

The first phase of SNEB’s historyproject features a video overview of SNEB’s history, “Footsteps for Future Generations,”which briefly chronicles the history of nutrition education in the U.S.A. and how the Societygrew out of the need to improve communication and educational strategies to help people make healthier food choices. Threevideo interviewsin the “Influential Leaders Series”includeSNEB members who were involved in the early stages of the organization’s development.These leaders helped shapetheSocietyas wellas the field of food and nutrition education. Thehistory project videos premiered on July 20, 2023 at the SNEB International Conference in Washington, DC.

The following SNEB leaders share their insights, experiences and visions for the future in their video interviews:

Dr. Johanna T. Dwyer served as 9th President of SNE from 1976-77. However, she was involved from the beginning as a staffer for Dr. Jean Mayer, Chair of the first White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health in 1969 where the idea emerged for creating a professional organization for nutrition educators. Dr. Dwyer is Professor of Nutrition and Community Health at the Medical School, Adjunct Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Senior Scientist, Jean Mayer/USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, and former director of the Frances Stern Nutrition Center all at Tufts University. Currently she is a contractor at the NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements. Her diverse career includes conducting cutting edge scientific research, publishing over 500 scholarly papers, writing a syndicated newspaper column, editing major nutrition journals, and working on international projects with UNICEF, PAHO and the FAO. She has held major leadership positions and served on advisory committees at USDA, NIH, and the National Academy of Sciences, including the 2000 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. In 2022, Dr. Dwyer was listed by as one of the Top Female Scientists in the US and the world.

Dr. Isobel R. Contento served as President of the SNEB Foundation from 2017-19, and has been active in SNEB since the early 1970s. She has contributed to the field of nutrition education by sharing her research and background on the behavioral aspects of nutrition education involving disciplines such as psychology and anthropology, through many national and international presentations as well as numerous scholarly publications. Dr. Contento was on the faculty at Teachers College, Columbia University, serving as Director of the Program in Nutrition (1985-2019). She became the Mary Swartz Rose Professor of Nutrition and Education in 1999 and upon her retirement in 2021 she was honored with Emerita status. Dr. Contento is the author of a landmark textbook on nutrition education that included her definition of nutrition education which has been widely adopted by the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior and by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed).

Dr. Joan D. Gussow served as SNE’s 12th President from 1979–1980. Dr. Gussow is a pioneer in advocating for long-term sustainability of the global food system, with special emphasis on connecting consumers and institutions such as schools, with local farms to support agriculture and be able to participate in critical conversations about food system sustainability. Dr. Gussow was on the faculty at Teachers College Columbia University serving as Director of the Program in Nutrition (1975-1985).She became the first Mary Swartz Rose Professor of Nutrition and Education in 1988 and upon her retirement in 1999, she was honored with Emerita status. Her vision and leadership inspired the formation of SNEB’s Division of Sustainable Food Systems, and she has been a force in the expansion of the local food movement and sustainability goals throughout the food industry and governmental agriculture, food and nutrition policies. Dr. Gussow has authored several books, many scholarly publications and articles for the general public, and served on influential food and nutrition boards and committees of the National Academy of Sciences, FDA and USDA.

The new history section of the SNEB website ( includes access to other historical resources, including a digital copy of The SNE Story – 25 Years of Advancing Nutrition Education, by Helen Denning Ullrich, a founding member of SNE and the first editor of the Journal of Nutrition Education. The history page also links to a series of articles published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior chronicling each decade of the Journal’s first 50 years, further supplemented with posters of Decades anda listing of SNEB past presidents.

The Foundation intends to continue the video project under the guidance of the members of the History Committee: Chair Frances Coletta Young, PhD, RD; Sarah L. Ash, PhD; Linda T. Drake, MS and Pamela A. Koch, EdD, RD. The history video interviews were produced, recorded and edited by Ben Koch. Ben Koch Media. Preston Trombly provided narration for the introductory video.

The history team extends a special thanks to Stéphane Vidry, PhD, Executive Director, ILSI Global, and the Digital Futures Institute of Teachers College, Columbia University for offering venues for the interview videos. Our gratitude goes to the SNEB Foundation trustees for providing funding and Rachel Daeger, SNEB Executive Director, and staff for their advice and assistance during this first “developmental phase” of the history project. Finally, we appreciate the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) staff and members for their suggestions and collegial interest in the SNEB History Project.

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The Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior Foundation is a 501(c)3 charitable organization providing student and community scholarships to attend the SNEB International Conference. The Foundation also sponsors speakers for the George M. Briggs Nutrition Science Symposium and the Bee Marks Communication Symposium held annually at the conference.


The Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior is an international organization of nutrition education professionals who are dedicated to advancing food and nutrition education research, practice, and policy that promote equity, and support public and planetary health. To learn more, visit