|The Greater Cincinnati Nutrition Council was started September 1, 1970.|
It all began with a small group of local nutrition professionals from the fields of health care, education, government and industry. Identifying a need for a reliable source of nutrition information, this group took control and now role models teach nutrition education that promotes positive changes in health behaviors for the residents of Greater Cincinnati.
The seeds for the Greater Cincinnati Nutrition Council were planted on September 1, 1970. The small company had grave ambition to create an agency that would serve the community as a resource for accurate nutrition information.
“GCNC was officially incorporated in 1974 and achieved its tax-exempt status in early 1975. Then in 1976, upon the hiring of an Executive Director and receipt of the first United Way allocation, the Greater Cincinnati Nutrition Council became the first community-based, fully funded and staffed agency of its type in the United States,” says Tracy Wilking, Assistant Director.
Building on over 35 years of experience, the Nutrition Council now focuses its resources on reaching out to children (and their parents) before they enter kindergarten.
“We believe that communicating practical, scientifically-based nutrition messages is key to making healthier lifestyle changes. Our programs reflect the most current nutrition information, which engage our audience through interactive and tactile learning methods. Our staff of licensed, registered dietitians have extensive knowledge and experience working with groups of all ages and backgrounds,” says Wilking.
GCNC has worked in the community for almost 40 years and their programming has continually changed to meet the most pressing needs of the community at the time. Right now they are focused on helping to give young children and their parents tools and information, which can impact their health for the rest of their lives.
“Our staff is dominated by registered, licensed dietitians.You’ll find that not everyone providing nutrition information or advice has those credentials,” says Wilking. As dietitians, they are required by their profession to be continually learning.
Starting in June, the Nutrition Council will take a next step in their work with parents and children by introducing the Hamilton County Educational Service Center (HCESC) Farm to Family pilot, which will connect 50 families with children in Head Start programs with fresh, local fruits and vegetables.
“Kids will have an area where they can just experience the fruits and vegetables. They’ll be able to hold them, squeeze them, and squish them, whatever they want. Research has shown that it takes 15 exposures to a food before a child accepts it. We will be helping to give them some opportunities to let a fruit or vegetable into their life and that is a fantastic thing!” says Wilking.
In addition to receiving a weekly family farmer’s market bag, they will be developing a corresponding interactive curriculum which will include a “Fruit & Vegetable of the Week” and cooking demonstration featuring an item from the “Meal of the Week.”
“The barrier to eating more fresh fruits and vegetables for low and lower-income families is often two-fold: do they have access to quality produce and can they afford it. Through the support of our generous partners in the pilot – Ohio Farm Bureau and Green B.E.A.N. Delivery – we’ll be able to offer the produce at no charge,” says Wilking.
Another challenge for families and individuals these days, and this is irrespective of income is that they do not know how to cook or prepare fresh, whole foods. “The foods we advocate for as part of a healthy diet. Today in this country, across society, we have a very low level of food literacy, which has led to the growth in convenience foods and the rise in diet-related diseases and obesity rates. Knowledge of cookery has been lost through subsequent generations,” says Wilking.
For more information on The Nutrition Council of Greater Cincinnati, visit them at NutritionCouncil.org.