Third Oldest Nutrition Store in The U.S. Celebrates 80th Year in Business

DES MOINES, IA — Did you know that the third oldest health-food store in the country is right here in Des Moines?

It is.  Campbell’s Nutrition on University Ave. celebrated it’s 80th birthday Saturday.  The only two older health stores are located in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Founded in 1937 store has changed owners three times. Current owner Diane Lahodny started working there as a clerk in 1990 while attending Drake University.  Five years later she would buy the longstanding establishment.

Lahodny says she owes everything to her customers who continue to keep her business running, which is a tough legacy to keep going.

“Well I’m hoping at this point to remain viable, to remain open. Health food stores across the nation are not doing as well as they could. We don’t have the buying power like the other box stores. So I’m hoping to at least make it to 100” said Lahodny .

Lahodny says when she bought the store she thought about changing the name, but decided to keep it as a nod to the original founding family.

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Head of Palmyra’s school nutrition services named Director of the Year

Posted: Sep. 23, 2017 9:20 pm

PALMYRA, Mo. — Morgan Ramey never imagined she would end up with a career in food management.

Ramey always liked to cook, and she enjoyed being in the kitchen trying new things. But the main reason she went to work at a Palmyra School District cafeteria in January 2009 was so she could work on the same schedule as her children’s school timetable.

“I started out as the salad and fruit girl,” she recalled.

Ramey quickly fell in love with cafeteria work. The following year, she became kitchen manager at the middle school. In 2015 she became the district’s director of nutrition services and was put in charge of all three cafeterias at the high school, middle school and elementary school.

Her career has been taking off since.

Two months ago, Ramey was attending a conference in St. Charles for employees of Opaa Food Management — the company that provides food services for Palmyra and 219 other school districts in six Midwestern states.

As an Opaa employee, Ramey was thrilled to learn she was being inducted into the company’s President’s Circle, which — based on meeting goals during the previous year — recognizes the top 10 percent of the 220 food service directors. Ramey then received an even bigger surprise. She was introduced as one of three regional winners of the Director of the Year award, which honors top directors who excelled beyond expectations.

Ramey was floored by this announcement.

“I never thought in a million years” she’d be named one of the winners, Ramey said.

“It was a huge honor,” she said. “It just gives me more motivation in my job.”

Ramey said she loves working in the Palmyra school system even though she is not a district employee. Instead, she is one of 3,000 Opaa employees in 220 school districts that provide food services to a combined enrollment of 220,000 students.

Ramey said many school districts across the nation, including Palmyra, have been contracting with private companies to provide food services in local schools. She said this trend took off after the passage of the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which set stricter national guidelines for the nation’s school lunch program. The guidelines spell out precisely much how much protein, whole-grain bread, fruit, vegetables and dairy products must be offered daily to students.

Ramey said Opaa makes it easier for school districts to meet the federal rules by having a nutritionist and chef on staff at the company’s central headquarters in Chesterfield.

“They come up with all of the recipes and do all the nutritional analysis,” Ramey said. “That way, we know we’re in compliance when it comes to the recipes.”

The central office then distributes a list of menu options so the food service directors in each district can select which menu items their students would like.

“That makes it a lot easier for us,” Ramey said. “We just have to follow their recipes and go from there.”

Ramey’s job is to oversee the cafeteria operations in the three schools and supervise the district’s 15 food service employees.

“Part of our job as the director is to manage the money and make sure that we are within our goals” for food costs, labor costs, student participation and other criteria, she said.

Ramey said her main objective since starting as food service director was to earn entry into the President’s Circle, and she was pleased that happened this year. Earning the Director of the Year award was extra icing on the cake.

The regional supervisor who nominated Ramey for the award touted her strong relationships with the school district’s leadership, staff and students and her willingness to serve as a mentor to other food service managers starting out.

“I just kind of ended up in this business by accident, but I can honestly say I love my job,” Ramey said. “It’s hard work cooking for all these kids, but it’s very rewarding. I love the kids, and I love the hugs I get.”

Ramey said she has come to appreciate the importance of school food programs in meeting the nutritional needs of students.

“For some of these kids, this is their only hot meal of the day,” she said. “It’s hard not to let your heart get involved with those students.”

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Meals on Wheels delivering nutrition for seniors and their pets

The FTHRA and the local Humane Society have been working together for about a year to help area seniors who sometimes share their limited food resources with furry friends.

And with a $500 gift from the 2017 Meal on Wheels Loves Pets Grant Program, the Humane Society has used its bulk buying know-how to expand that partnership.

FTHRA Director of Nutrition Services Stephanie Walker said the Humane Society initiated its partnership with the agency last year after learning Meals on Wheels recipients often share their lunch with their pets when they’re unable to buy pet food.

“We applied for the grant and then gave the money to the Humane Society of Washington County, because they have the buying power to purchase the pet food,” Walker said. “They were able to purchase over six pallets of pet food, which was well over 240 bags of dog and cat food.”


Walker said the Humane Society delivers pet food once a month to the FTHRA central kitchen, and Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver it to area seniors who receive Meals on Wheels who have pets.

“Many of our meal recipients rely on their pets as emotional support but struggle financially to provide food for them,” Walker said.

Walker said the grant program has been in place nationally since 2007 and has so far distributed more than $1.8 million in funding and pet food donations to nearly 300 Meals on Wheels programs across the country that are working to keep pets and their homebound seniors together.

Meals on Wheels Northeast Tennessee provides daily meals to about 1,000 seniors in Carter, Johnson, Greene, Hancock, Hawkins, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties.

The program is not limited by income eligibility and is open to any homebound senior or disabled adult with nutrition challenges, including isolation, lack of transportation and inability to cook.

Those who wish to apply for Meals on Wheels may call the Area Agency on Aging and Disability at 866-836-6678. Those who wish to volunteer with Meals on Wheels may call FTHRA at 423-461-8217.

Email Sue Guinn Legg at Follow her on Twitter @sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at

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