Connecting with Community Health Influencers
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Whether your retailer employs dietitians in every store or you have one corporate RDN, collaborating with community health influencers can amplify your wellness messaging, attract new customers and help drive sales. Several retailers have actually developed specific educational store events for medical professionals to show how their stores can partner in patient care. Local dietitians, physicians and nurses attend the programs and leave with an understanding of the products, recipes and resources available to support a healthy lifestyle and disease management.
Here are a few other ways supermarket RDNs are connecting with health professionals in their markets:
- Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN, CDN, Senior Nutritionist at Price Chopper Supermarkets works with dietitians from Cornell Cooperative Extension to partner with Price Chopper on promoting family meals. Extension staff help extend the reach of the program by distributing handouts, participating with in-store events and social media. The family meals collaboration has earned Ellie and Price Chopper 4 Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Gold Plate awards from the FMI Foundation Family Meals Month initiative.
- Tina Miller, MS RDN coordinates health influencer training for Meijer around store tours and cooking demos, and each program is approved for 3 hours of continuing education credits. The store tour training educates participants about wellness resources available in food, pharmacy and fitness departments and materials include a laminated tour script. Attendees then use Meijer stores for patient tours as they promote healthy shopping and meal preparation. The demo training attendees learn the skills needed to conduct cooking demos that enhance their nutrition education efforts and also become familiar with Meijer store brands.
- Leslie Jefferson, MS, CNS, LDN, In-Store Nutritionist at Giant Food spends time in her community collaborating with county health departments, insurance advisory boards, hospitals and health coalitions. Her efforts with each organization ensures local health care providers and educators know how to use her services and the nutrition and pharmacy resources at her store as they assist patients and clients.
The bottom line is that most health professionals welcome the chance to collaborate with a retail community partner to improve health outcomes for patients and clients. Make the effort to reach out, gather feedback, and communicate successes to your leadership.