Recollections of Alice Adelheid Wimpfheimer MS, RDN, CDN, tireless sponsor of international dietetics initiatives, whose vision gave life to Dietetics Around the World, in collaboration with Beverly Bajus, AND Honorary Member 2014
My international background with schooling in Germany, Switzerland and USA plus 2½ years of extensive global travel and exploration, beginning in 1953, made me realize the importance of the necessity for dietitians to communicate worldwide between the four-year intervals of the Congress. However, Dietetics Around the World (DAW) had a rather difficult birth.
The concept of a newsletter for members of the International Committee of Dietetic Associations, known since 2000 as the International Confederation of Dietetic Associations (ICDA), was presented in March, 1992 at the Executive Committee meeting in Jerusalem, Israel through the efforts of Beverly Bajus, then Chief Operating Officer of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) and its Foundation (ADAF) and USA representative to ICDA. I was granted permission to distribute an ADA questionnaire to Congress attendees to determine interest in the newsletter project.
Ms. Bajus also volunteered to include the newsletter in her presentation to the European Federation of Associations of Dietitians (EFAD) general meeting in Cape Sounion, Greece where she was invited to speak in September, 1992. The positive reaction of EFAD members encouraged ICDA to move the project forward. In Manila, the Philippines, in February, 1993, the Executive Committee approved a pilot edition.
ADA, now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) agreed to publish the early newsletters and to encourage other national dietetic associations to promote outreach by sharing nutritional information on a worldwide basis. The pilot edition of Dietetics Around the World was launched in July, 1994. Karen Lechowich, MS, MBA, RD, was ADA’s communications link to country representatives, gathering articles and preparing them for publication. Pam Michaels, MBA, RD, edited the pilot and some later issues.
Twenty copies of the newsletter were sent to each member country for distribution to its Board of Directors and association leaders with a request to photocopy it for broader circulation among members or to reprint sections in their respective publications. Associations were asked to mail or fax news items to the editor.
A commemorative title page of the pilot edition was presented to me by ADAF in July, 1994 with a citation including, “… this is the beginning of what will become an important vehicle for contributing to international progress in nutrition and dietetics.” My international partner of Canadian origin, Beverly Bajus, sent me a miniature airplane, symbolic of the newsletter officially taking global flight.
At the September 1994 EFAD meeting in Dietikon, Switzerland, I promoted the benefits of the biannual newsletter to the Executive Committee but in addition as I attended the General Meeting all the official delegates were also made aware of the idea. A second and later a third edition was approved. The newsletter was judged a success in a 1995 ICDA survey that gathered evaluations and recommendations from the 27 member countries. It was now time to formalize production and redesign the logo.
Pat Stahl, editor of the ADA Courier, provided professional guidance as editor of DAW for 5 years from 1997 through 2001. At the International Congress of Dietetics (ICD) in Manila in1996, the Executive Committee took action to assure publication of the biannual newsletter until the thirteenth ICD in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2000. During the Edinburgh meeting I was recognized by ICDA “…for improving global nutrition by strengthening international dietetics efforts. No other single publication offers dietitians such an opportunity to share with their colleagues around the globe their expertise and methods of improving the nutritional wellbeing of the world’s citizens.” This token of recognition makes me feel that my principal goal has been of value.
Today, members of national dietetic associations regularly contribute articles spotlighting new and exciting professional programs and activities occurring in their respective professional communities. Other countries can benefit by adapting programs appropriate to their needs.
The ICDA web site was launched in September, 2001, making real time multi-way communications around the globe a reality. Newsletter editing and funding was underwritten by the Wimpfheimer-Guggenheim Fund for International Exchange in Nutrition, Dietetics and Management and administered by ADAF from its inception through 2001 when these responsibilities were assumed by ICDA. Published three times yearly since 2013, Canada archived all DAW newsletters online in 2014.
There were many challenges along the way, some important and some quaint:
The newsletter was to be titled, Nutrition and Dietetics Around the World. That was not possible because a nutritionist was not considered a professional in all ICDA member countries and in some countries this still is the case.
Editing caused some authors a great deal of stress. They thought the editor was changing their content. The editor thought it was helpful to correct grammar. Congratulations to the member country representatives for their linguistic adaptability.
The newsletter was launched “BC” - before computers. Letters were sent to gather information with the hope that something would come by return mail. The struggle to get information was exhausting.
Other countries had different holidays and could not submit articles on the North American timetable.
One edition was titled by volume and season. The next edition was changed to volume and issue number when the editor was made aware that spring in the West is fall in Australia.
I am an ADA/AND life member. I completed my ADA administrative internship at the
University of Washington, Seattle, sixty-five years ago. I hope that my passion will inspire the leadership of all 43 member countries and their approximately 200,000 individual members to continue to broaden the nutrition and dietetics community to every corner of the globe:
Publicize and encourage members and non-members to take advantage of the experiences highlighted in Dietetics Around the World.
Promote the Welcome Fund
Recommend regional membership such as the Caribbean Association of
Nutritionists and Dietitians Institute (CANDi) for countries with too few dietitians to become individual country members of ICDA.
Thank you ADA and ADAF for your decision to promote outreach and publish the newsletters. Thank you recent editors, Sandra Capra, Australia (editor from 2001 to 2004); Carole Middleton, Great Britain (editor from 2004 to 2008); and Sheela Krishnaswamy, India (editor from 2008 till date); Marsha Sharp and the Secretariat, Canada; and all the contributors for caring and sharing. You have strengthened and expanded the quality and content of 43 issues of Dietetics Around the World these past 20 years.
Photo Reference: Beverly Bajus (left) with Alice Wimpfheimer (Journal of AND, June, 2013 Volume 113,
Editor’s Note: To obtain more information about ICDA and Dietetics Around the World, visit the website www.internationaldietetics.org.
The online newsletter is available to dietitians and nutritionists in member and non-member countries and to the public.