Population Health Faculty and Student Awards.
Dr. Chin was chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health (now Population Health) from 1975-1989 and was professor emeritus. He had a national and international reputation in infectious disease epidemiology and cancer epidemiology and had 30 years of dedicated service to the U.S. Public Health Service. He was an outstanding teacher, clinician and a leader in public health research both nationally and internationally. This award honors an individual who has some of the personal attributes and characteristics that illuminated Dr. Chin's own distinguished career.
Born in Grenada in 1930, Norge was educated in Catholic schools. Grenadian boys went to college in the UK, but girls did not attend college. Fortunately, after she taught elementary school for nine years and worked with the YWCA, someone encouraged her to apply to Howard University from which she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1960. She earned her Ph. D. at the University of Wisconsin and taught at those universities prior to coming to Kansas in 1967, where she continued her broad contributions, especially relative to nutritional anthropology. Her papers have been donated to UMKC.
She was a visiting professor at Purdue, University of Tennessee, Tuskegee Institute, University of Missouri – Columbia, and UMKC.
Having never married and having no children, Norge mentored a huge number of people around the world, mostly women and mostly minorities. A plethora of non-blood-related people refer to Norge as “Auntie Norge”.
Non-profits have benefited from Norge’s careful saving and investing and generous donations.
- The Unicorn Theatre has a “Norge Jerome Stage”.
- She has been critical to the “Norge Winifred Jerome Youth Mentorship Program at Crittenton Children’s Center (part of St. Luke’s).
- She endowed the Norge Winifred Jerome Public Scholar/Faculty Program Fund in the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare.
- She donated significantly to the University of Bridgeport (on whose Board of Trustees she served), various projects in Grenada and the Mt. Carmel Redevelopment Corp., etc.
- The “Norge W. Jerome Award for Excellence in Preventive Medicine” has been presented since the 1990s to an outstanding senior medical student at KU who excelled in public health or preventive medicine for minority populations.
- The Dr. Norge W. Jerome Grenada Teachers Award honors a Grenadian teacher each year with a plaque and a $1000 grant.
Norge founded the field of “Nutritional Anthropology”, which takes local and ethnic culture — such as how food is defined by a group, local food and drink preferences and cooking styles — into account when trying to encourage healthy food habits and nutrition.
Her papers at the LaBudde Special Collections library at UMKC, include work on general nutrition, by age, for different economic classes and cultures, for those with specific diseases (e.g. anorexia and cancer), natural and organic foods, frozen TV dinners, infant formula, etc.; TV advertising impact on pre-school children; women’s issues; international development (including fuel conservation and time allocation); civil rights; etc. Her research was funded by numerous federal agencies, the state of Kansas, various foundations, and food companies.
Her first research, in Milwaukee’s inner city in 1965, concluded that cultures eventually abandon traditional food and cooking after relocating. They succumb to the convenience of locally available food and fast food. In that fashion, African-Americans who moved from the southern USA to the north shifted from boiling to frying, with adverse impact on their health.
Norge founded and ran KU’s Community Nutrition Division and Laboratory, starting her local field work in Kansas City, KS in 1972. She is very loyal to KCK for having welcomed her work there. Norge insisted that researchers treat community members as active collaborators of equal standing in defining their needs and finding solutions that would work in their community, rather than being viewed as passive research subjects to be helped. This concept does not sound as revolutionary today as it was when Norge began promulgating it.
Norge was an early advocate of eating a colorful diet, fruits and vegetables while reducing fat, sugar and salt and food fortification with vitamins and minerals. She led the movement to have nutritional labels on food products.
A common story from her admirers: being startled the first time they saw her eat the head of a fish (which she notes is full of nutrients). Nothing but the skeleton would be left on her plate.
Working with the US Department of Agriculture, she found that giving surplus food to families with food challenges did not work as well as food stamps because families were unable to store the foods properly. Her work convinced her that cash grants were the best approach.
Norge’s efforts running US AID programs from 1988-92 involved travel to 5 continents, with a special emphasis on Egypt where she studied the social, economic, biological, behavioral and psychological consequences of various levels of food intake for adults, school-age children and infants. A key finding was that people had sufficient food intake but lacked a variety of micronutrients. That is, enough calories but not enough diversity. Once again, ahead of others.
Her international nutrition work with US AID and non-profits exposed her to a variety of cultures and the experience of women, leading her to become a leading expert and advocate on women’s issues in the developing world.
Norge also created nutritional tools (such as Nutri-Check, a computerized tool in which people described their dietary patterns and lifestyle and received recommendations for improvement).
Norge has been a creative leader, specializing in creating coalitions to forge progress in many dimensions. She served 9 professional magazines in voluntary editorial capacities. She also served on more than 40 national panels, committees and boards related to dietetics, malnutrition, smoking, TV advertising to children, cancer, metabolism, food interactions, animal agriculture research, baking, Sesame Place, Club of Rome, food supply technology, child health and human development, solar cooking, Unity Church and micronutrients.
She served on 14 KU committees and more than 20 local boards, for 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.
Norge has published 3 books and more than 100 articles and gave 400 presentations. As of March 2021 (when this was written), she resides at Village Shalom in Overland Park KS.
For more info, contact Claude Thau by email or at 913-707-8863.
Tom D.Y Chin Population Health Excellence Award is given to a graduating senior medical student who has excelled in public health or preventive medicine during their medical education, in honor of Tom D.Y. Chin, M.D
- 2021 Recipient: Kellen Gil, MPH
Norge W. Jerome Population Health Excellence Award is given to an outstanding senior medical student who has excelled in public health or preventive medicine for minority populations during their medical education, in honor of Norge W. Jerome, Ph.D.
- 2021 Recipient: Pablo Kennedy, MSCR
- Tom D.Y Chin Population Health Excellence Award
- Jordan Voss, M.D., M.S.
- Norge W. Jerome Population Health Excellence Award
- Katie Twist, M.D.