Origin of Food and Nutrition Board in 1940

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“The Food and Nutrition Board was first organized in 1940, as a committee within the Division of Biology and Agriculture of the National Academy of Sciences–National Research Council and charged with advising the National Government in very broad terms, relative to foods and nutrition. This action was a part of the intense effort to strengthen all military and civilian resources in preparation for war…,” according to C. Glen King, vice chairman of the Food and Nutrition Board in 1967.

“There was great uncertainty at that time regarding the adequacy of our food supply as consumed by either the civilian population or the rapidly growing military forces. Accordingly, there was intense pressure on the Board to act quickly and reliably…

Probably no one publication has had so much influence on national and international affairs as the booklet on Recommended Dietary Allowances. The Board was accustomed to working fast during the war years but we were utterly surprised when Lydia Roberts was authorized at an afternoon meeting to prepare a table of that nature, and reported to the Board next morning with a draft copy.

On second thought, we decided that this was an illustration of homework well done by a committee of one in advance of the meeting. You can imagine the zest with which subcommittees then attacked all of the data presented.”

Source: Proceedings of Nutrition Education Conference+. USDA Miscelalaneous Publication 1075, 1968.

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