Our Founder


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The Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition exists as the result of a quest for reciprocity. Gretchen Swanson was empowered to give back to society in a way that others only dream about.


The Center is an infinite expression of her desire to make a difference in society and positively impact the lives of children, especially those who are underprivileged, through the food they eat.

A woman ahead of her time, she was concerned about the negative effects of food access inequality in the early 1970s. She identified food insecurity and the gaps it creates in our communities long before food-justice terminology was “mainstream.” Her belief was simple: Every child, every person has a right to good, healthy food.

Gretchen Swanson saw her work with the Center not as a job but as “pursuing an intense interest.” Colleagues, family and friends have described her as smart, gracious, humble and a great observer. Independent, she was the first woman to sit on several boards of directors in the areas of banking and nutrition.

Gretchen Swanson was the daughter of Carl and Caroline Swanson. Carl Swanson was a turn-of-the-century produce wholesaler who founded frozen-food giant C.A. Swanson & Sons Co., and later under the leadership of her brothers, Gilbert C. and W. Clarke, the company developed the TV dinner. Swanson & Sons merged with Campbell Soup Co. in 1955.