Back in 1999, I was really naive, fearless, and determined. Fresh from my internship, I knew I did not want to work as a clinical dietitian. Knowing I loved helping people, I sought out different opportunities. I found a local RD who was working for Kroger, doing cooking classes and merchandising with products in a single store. I followed her around, and decided that was exactly what I wanted to do. Brave and young little me walked right into another store and told them they needed to hire me. Well, they did! It still surprises me to this day.
I only knew of a handful of dietitians at the time. Jeanine Sherry had a very succesful program at Ukrop’s. Shari Steinbach worked for Spartan. Pauline Thompson was with Giant. Harriet Solar was a corporate call center dietitian for Kroger. It’s important to note that there were other trailblazers I didn’t realize were also on the scene. Gerri Seinberg, Janet Teney, Jane Andrews, and Cindy Silver were paving the way for future dietitians in retail as well.
As many of these pioneering dietitians found out as I did, dietitians were not trained for the retail world. What on earth was ROI, a planogram, a facing, a slick, or a category? The learning curve was steep and a very lengthy process. It took time and lots of work to have a place at the corporate table. It took me 5 years to go from store dietitian, to regional dietitian, and then to a corporate dietitian. Trial and error was the really the only playbook I had.
Fast forward to 2015 (almost 16 years later), around 500-600 RDN’s now work for supermarkets. There is a supermarket subgroup within the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It’s even gone international. Canada, Australia, and England have followed suit. Retail Dietitians Business Alliance was formed only in 2013 to help RD’s navigate the grocery industry. With all these fabulous resources emerging, one thing was still missing: an across the board training program developed by a mastermind retail dietitian collective. Well, that just happened.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics just released their NEW Supermarket Business and Industry Skills to Thrive in Retail Dietetics Certificate Program. The training is composed of 4 modules. Over 50 years of retail experience went into the development of this certificate program. According to Karen Buch, FCP Supermarket Subgroup Chair, “The team was comprised of four experienced Retail Dietitians–Shari Steinbach, Healthy Living Manager at Meijer, Ellie Wilson, Senior Nutritionist at Price Chopper, Julie McMillin, Assistant vice president of Retail Dietetics at HyVee and Karen Buch, former Director of Lifestyle Initiatives at Weis Markets and Consultant (specializing in retail dietetics) at Nutrition Connections LLC, together with Cathy Polley, Vice President of Health and Wellness at Food Marketing Institute and Annette Maggi, Executive Director of Retail Dietitians Business Alliance and current Chair of FCP. Judy Dodd, former president of the Academy and retail dietitian consultant, organized the development process and task force.”
I completed the training over the weekend, and I can tell you as a veteran Supermarket RD, I was very impressed. Your learning curve just got a lot shorter. Years of experience, successes, and lots of hard work await you in these 4 modules. While each retailer has a unique mission for a supermarket dietitian, this program definitely gives retail dietitians or aspiring retail dietitians a game plan and tools to succeed in a challenging field we were not trained in. This is why it’s a game changer. It’s a road map or as I like to think of it, a treasure map. Can you imagine what the next 10 years could bring? This is what keeps retail in my blood. It’s still such a young and growing field.
If you are still on the fence, Karen Buch, Supermarket RD/Retail Subgroup Chair, Development Team Member and Co-Author of Module 2 and Shari Steinbach, Healthy Living Manager at Meijer, have answered a few questions you may have before going through the certificate program.
1. What benefits will a RDN and retailer see with having this training?
Should veteran supermarket RD’s take this training?
This certificate of training program is perfect for registered dietitians who are interested in exploring or pursuing a career in retail dietetics and for those who are already working in a retail setting and wish to progress on a retail career path.
ROI is a critical piece of supermarket dietitians longevity. Will participants walk away with a solid understanding on how to make the case that retail dietitians can positively impact the bottom line?
Anyone going through the module on ROI will definitely walk away with a solid understanding on how to make the case that retail dietitians can positively impact the bottom line. They will be able to identify meaningful measures of success for nutrition programs at retail and how to communicate ROI effectively to retail leadership. In addition, we provide information on planning programs and initiatives with ROI in mind. Participants with also learn about ROI strategies based on in-store, vendor and community collaborations with real life examples.