Jessica Miller is one of the newest retail RDs pioneering the path at Pyramid Foods. Find out how she’s handled the unknown and what her store is up to here.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?
My company has never had dietitians before I came on board. I had to work to build the wellness program from the ground up, writing mission statements, job descriptions, goals, and even a budget. There was a lot of work to be done, but I’m glad I came in on the ground floor and was able to play a hand in those important decisions.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
The biggest challenge for me has been learning the retail lingo. I came from a clinical background so the retail world is a new animal. The differences between vendors, distributors, and wholesalers - just to name a few -- has been a learning curve.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I wish I would have known how much I would love it! The business world feels so refreshing, and I love that I’m able to be creative in what I do every day. I love that each day is different, and there is such a variety of projects to work on. Some days I focus on products, some days we are preparing for a cooking class, some days are working in media, and some days doing in-store demos. I don’t take for granted that I enjoy what I do because I know not everyone has that.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back? If yes, tell us about this and how you dealt with it.
We are a smaller grocery store chain and currently don’t have a marketing department. It’s been a challenge to get our program to the public. Because of this, I’ve learned a lot about marketing strategy and am making new community connections every week. We are managing our program’s Facebook page, Blog, Twitter, and Instagram messaging all on our own. I also made two television appearances last week, so I’m seeing the progress, and it’s really exciting to see things I’ve been working on come to fruition!
Has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward?
Our company, Pyramid Foods, has welcomed us with open arms. They have long wanted dietitians, and there is a huge motivation to help build the program into something great. We have employees reaching out as well as executives who have a vision to see the dietitian department grow. Knowing our CEO is invested in having dietitians and truly sees the value in the role has propelled me to move forward and motivated me to make it the best it can be.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
I was fortunate enough to attend FMI as well as the RDBA retail dietitian event in Chicago this summer. There I was able to glean important information as well as meet veterans of the retail dietitian world. I made so many great connections, and they’ve graciously reached out to me and been a sounding board as well as provided skilled advice for succeeding in the retail setting. Their advice and guidance has been invaluable – helping me to create the program and learn the best ways to keep moving forward. Iron sharpens iron. and surrounding myself with the veterans in the industry I believe will play greatly into my program’s success.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
Previous to my new role, I worked as a diabetes educator for over five years. I’ve seen the importance of educating patients with diabetes and supporting them on their journey. When starting at Pyramid Foods, I wanted to find a way to continue to reach this population, so I started and oversee our diabetes support group. Each month we meet, and I work to provide an open dialogue for customers to share their questions and experiences. Shopping with diabetes can be such a challenge, and I’ve heard too many patients say they spend hours in the grocery store trying to find the best foods to eat. My hope is that having a dietitian in the store will ease this process and make shopping a more pleasant experience. I’m also beginning to reach out to our pharmacists to see what services I can offer for their customers with diabetes.
Jessica Miller is a Dietitian for Pyramid Foods, which operates under several banners in Southwest Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma areas. She is a CDE and has worked as a diabetes education coordinator prior to her new role at Pyramid Foods. After seeing so many patients struggle with chronic disease, Jessica is excited to work towards prevention. Reaching out to customers to guide and teach before they develop chronic disease is so important and capitalizing on their motivation to stay healthy.
Pyramid Foods is an employee-owned company dedicated to providing our consumers the very best food and service at the very best prices. Our team of over 2,700 associates, representing 47 stores in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas are involved in many different programs in the communities where we work and live and take pride in the brands we represent.