Jerome, Norge W. (November 3, 1930-December 21, 2021)
- Existence: November 3, 1930 - December 21, 2021
Dr. Norge Jerome was born on November 3, 1930 in Mon Plaisir, Grenada to McManus Israel Jerome and Mary Evelyn Grant. She grew up as the eldest of five siblings—two brothers and two sisters. Her family owned the only business in the small village, which encompassed a grocery store and a spice processing plant. Jerome grew up in the Roman Catholic faith, and her father was the leader of the church in Grenada.
Jerome moved to Washington, D.C. to study at Howard University in 1956, where she majored in nutrition and dietetics and minored in chemistry. She received her master’s degree at The University of Wisconsin in 1962 with a major in experimental foods and human nutrition and a minor in microbiology. She continued on at The University of Wisconsin for her Ph.D. in Human Nutrition and Anthropology.
Jerome is widely considered the first nutritional anthropologist, and the pioneer of the field. She chose to develop the field because she was passionate about making nutrition more humanistic. It was through combining her extensive knowledge of both nutrition and anthropology that nutritional anthropology was born.
Her doctoral dissertation focused on African Americans who had migrated from the Deep South to Milwaukee and if their dietary patterns had changed through the move north. Some of her other major areas of research are children’s television advertising, avoidable mortality from cancers in black populations, dietary patterns in Egypt, and food preference. She was the director for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from 1988-92, where she did research on nutrition in the Caribbean, focusing on countries like Grenada and Barbados. She also focused on Egypt, where she studied the behavioral and economic consequences of levels of food intake for infants, children, and adults. Jerome concluded that what people needed the most was more diversity in their diets.
Jerome developed a computerized nutrition research tool called Nutri-Check. Nutri-Check allows people to record their dietary patterns and lifestyle, and the program would give feedback on positive changes they could make to their lifestyle. She joined the faculty in the Preventive Medicine and Public Health department at the University of Kansas in 1967 and was later honored with the title of Professor Emerita. Jerome founded the University of Kansas’ Community Nutrition Division and Laboratory. In 1980, she published her book, Nutritional Anthropology: Contemporary Approaches to Diet and Culture.
Jerome generously donated to non-profits in the Kansas City area, such as the Unicorn Theatre, the “Norge Winifred Jerome Youth Mentorship Program at Crittenton Children’s Center” (St. Luke’s Medical Center), the University of Bridgeport, as well as countless others. The “Norge W. Jerome Award for Excellence in Preventive Medicine” is presented at KU to a senior medical student who has excelled in public health or preventive medicine for minority populations.
She served on many different local committees including Johnson County Library, League of Women Voters, Urban League, Health Foundation, Regional Health and Welfare Council, Teen-Age Parents Center, Infant Day Care Center, United Community Services, Prime Health HMO, Mid-American Health Systems Agency, Crittenton Center, Mayor’s Task Force on Food and Hunger, Inner City Branch of the Voluntary and Information Action Center, American Heart Association, Midwest Research Institute, Commission on Aging, Black Health Care Coalition, Johnson County Foundation on Aging, Maternal and Child Health Care Coalition, Unicorn Theater, and Northeast Johnson County NAACP. In addition to her academic achievements, she also served as president of the Association for Women in Development (AWID), serving as an advocate for both women and minorities.
Dr. Norge Jerome passed away December 21, 2021.