Ullrich, Helen D. 1922-2006

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Ullrich, Helen D. 1922-2006
(Helen Denning Ullrich)


See index for CA sketch: Born November 28, 1922, in Berkeley, CA; died of breast cancer, March 19, 2006, in Berkeley, CA. Nutritionist, businessperson, and author. One of the founders of the Society for Nutrition Education, Ullrich was credited with bringing the concept of the food pyramid to national attention. A 1944 graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, she worked as a food chemist for the U.S. Army toward the end of World War II. She next worked at the University of Hawaii, where she studied native foods, and at Pennsylvania State University. Completing an M.A. in nutrition education at Columbia University in 1954, she was hired two years later as a nutrition specialist at the University of California Extension Service. She quit this job in 1963 after giving birth to her daughter because the university did not grant mothers maternity leave. Ullrich continued to work as a nutrition consultant in Berkeley, however, until joining the University of California campus there as a nutrition specialist. It was during her time here that Ullrich came into prominence in the field. She helped found the Society for Nutrition Education in 1967—she served as its executive director from 1973 to 1982 and editor of its journal until 1979—and lobbying the federal governmentto enact laws that created programs to encourage better nutrition for school children and the poor. For example, she supported the creation of the food stamp program and nutrition labels on food packages, and she did much to encourage the passage of the 1977 Child Nutrition Act. Although the idea was not originated by Ullrich, she was the one to introduce thefood pyramid to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an easy-to-understand way to explain a balanced diet to the average consumer. Ullrich left the university in 1979, and in 1983 founded Nutrition Communications Associates. After retiring, Ullrich still remained active as a volunteer for the Berkeley Food Pantry, and as the founder of a food bank in Alameda County. A contributor to a number of books on nutrition, she also was coauthor of Children and Weight: A Changing Perspective (1985; revised edition, 1988), and author of Health Maintenance through Food and Nutrition(1981) and the memoir The Nutritionists (2005).



Ullrich, Helen D., The Nutritionists: Scientists and Practitioners: A Personal and Historical Story,privately printed, 2005.


Los Angeles Times, April 7, 2006, p. B9.