When Howard Schiffer was a midwife in his early 20s, he counseled women on pre-and post-natal nutrition and the importance of a healthy diet combined with supplementation for both their health and that of their newborn children. He followed this with over a decade of developing and selling vitamin supplements in the natural products industry before changing gears and getting back to his roots: helping new mothers and children with nutritional support. In 1994, he launched Vitamin Angels.
For 23 years, Vitamin Angels has provided mothers and children across the United States and around the world with supplements to counter health issues, including low birth weights, stunted growth, anemia and vitamin A deficiencies. The nonprofit organization also encourages healthy long-term development in children and new mothers.
“I decided to start Vitamin Angels after the Northridge earthquake in California when a relief agency called me requesting vitamins for affected farm workers, and I coordinated a big delivery of vitamins through a friend who owned a vitamin company,” says Schiffer. “A few days later, a woman from the relief group called to tell me how great this was and what a difference it was making for the recipients.
It was then the idea for Vitamin Angels was born.”
Schiffer contacted supplements companies to partner with the program. One of the first two companies to participate was Rainbow Light, which continues to donate vitamins today. Rainbow Light donates prenatal multivitamins formulated to Vitamin Angels’ specifications, which are made in accordance with UNICEF and World Health Organization guidelines.
“Vitamin Angels completely aligns with our mission of being a performance leader in building a stronger state of health for our customers, our natural trade partners, our global community and the planet,” says Terri Anne Cooper, science education manager at Wellnext, makers of Rainbow Light vitamins. To date, Cooper reports that Vitamin Angels has donated 50 million vitamins to the organization over the past 23 years. The company also donates 1 percent of multivitamin product sales to Vitamin Angels programs, reaching food-insecure regions around the world.
“I had the honor of accompanying Howard to a high Andean community in Peru and interviewing women who had been taking our prenatal daily through the Vitamin Angels program,” says Cooper. “Invariably, they all shared positive results, such as higher energy levels and stronger lactation. It was an amazing experience for me to see how powerful a one-a-day vitamin can be.”
Photo courtesy of Vitamin Angels/Matt Dayka.