Omaha-Based National Nutrition Research Center Unveils New Name

The Center for Human Nutrition is now the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition. The Omaha-based independent research organization was established in 1973 by the late Gretchen Swanson to meet increasing public demand for information about nutrition. Today, the Center provides research, evaluation, and partnership activities in three key areas of expertise – childhood obesity prevention, food insecurity and local food systems. Since 1985, the Center has also conducted pediatric clinical trials.

COLLABORATIONS: The Center and Executive Director Amy Yaroch, Ph.D. currently collaborate nationally through consultation and/or by serving on advisory groups and/or committees and subcommittees with National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters and Feeding America. In addition, the Center recently finished a project for the United States Department of Agriculture’s 4-H program to compile best indicators in the areas of healthy eating, physical activity and injury prevention and related psychological and behavioral constructs.

PROJECTS: Active projects cover a wide range of topics including Farm to School and anti-hunger activities. The Center has conducted a Farm to School needs assessment and is helping to facilitate local foods procurement in K-12 schools in Douglas County as one of the partners on the Live Well Omaha: Douglas County Putting Prevention to Work Study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Center is also aiding in evaluation efforts for Hunger Free Heartland, a tri-county initiative in the Omaha metro region to help alleviate childhood hunger.

LEADERSHIP: Amy Lazarus Yaroch, Ph.D., has been Executive Director of the Center since March 2009. Dr. Yaroch also holds an appointment as Professor in the Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health in the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, as well as an appointment as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is also an Affiliate Member of the Eppley Cancer Center. Prior to her position at the Center, Dr. Yaroch was a Program Director at the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, Health Promotion Research Branch for more than six years where she led research efforts in the areas of nutrition, obesity prevention and sun safety/skin cancer prevention.
The Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition provides scientific expertise and technical assistance in areas of childhood obesity prevention, food insecurity, local food systems, and survey development and program evaluation. This is accomplished through outreach and research efforts often partnering with various entities such as universities, nonprofits and other community organizations. In addition to an endowment, the Center garners further funding through the submission of grants and contracts to build the research infrastructure at the local, state and national levels.

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