Inspiring an Industry to Go Above & Beyond

Image courtesy of Vitamin Angels.

In 2014, we debuted our Person of the Year feature as a way to recognize the person (or people) who have made the biggest impact specifically on the natural products industry. That impact could be positive or negative, or a mix of both. For 2021, a year marked by negatives for so many, our Person of the Year feature is all about the positive, as we recognize Howard Schiffer, Founder and President of Vitamin Angels. This is a very special one for me. For many years, I have been inspired by Howard for what he has accomplished and where he and Vitamin Angels are going.  All children deserve the very best from the start, and Vitamin Angels is on a mission to help ensure that each child gets the nutrition they require by providing prenatal vitamins and Vitamin A to those in need all over the world. I have been fortunate to enough to see firsthand how the lives of mothers and their children have been blessed by Vitamin Angels.

In 2013, I was lucky to have the opportunity to join Vitamin Angels on a trip to Peru, where I met the most amazing families who were so grateful for the life-changing nutritional support they received from Vitamin Angels and the industry companies who partner with VA to make the difference. Before they had the prenatals, some of these women never carried to full term, giving birth to preemies and not knowing if their children would make it. Their diets are mostly comprised of potatoes, so they do not receive the nutrients they need, but with the prenatal vitamins they can have a much safer pregnancy.

My second trip with Vitamin Angels was in 2018, when I went to Honduras and witnessed the distribution of Vitamin A to help with malnourishment. Once again, I saw how grateful these families are. I had many discussions with the mothers about the prenatal vitamins and how they changed their lives, and these women feel so blessed to be able to receive the help.

Both of these experiences changed my life, but now that I am a mom I understand these women completely, and feel even more blessed to have met them and heard their stories.

Why now in 2021 is Howard the Person of the Year? He and Vitamin Angels have continued to change the world for the past 27 years. During the pandemic, Vitamin Angels continued to do what they do from their headquarters in Santa Barbara. For an organization that relies upon traveling to see and meet the families affected, it was a change, but the they continued to help in more ways in our country and around the world. Plus, Vitamin Angels once again received a 4-star rating by charity navigator. In a time of COVID, Vitamin Angels announced the Healthy Futures Initiative. Through the Healthy Futures Initiative, Vitamin Angels raised money to address the increased global demand for health services caused by the pandemic. And Vitamin Angels continues to reach their goal to eliminate newborn mortality due to vitamin deficiencies by 2030. All this is enough to keep anyone busy at any time, but during a pandemic it is even more crucial.

Our Person of the Year is a person who has had influence on the past year. Howard could probably be Person of the Year any year with what he has accomplished since founding Vitamin Angels in 1997. But all he has done for these families during a pandemic gives us even more reason to shine a light on his words and works. Turn to page 14 for our full feature.

Thank you, Howard and Vitamin Angels, for all that you do.