In today's "Retail Dietitian Close Up," we're hearing from Natalie Menza, M.S., R.D. Prior to joining ShopRite, Natalie worked in clinical settings as well as in private practices providing dietary counseling to help clients achieve their health and wellness goals.
Natalie graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Science and completed her dietetic internship at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). She went on to receive her Master of Science in Nutrition also from UMDNJ.
Tell us a little bit about ShopRite and Wakefern Food Corp.
ShopRite is the registered trademark of Wakefern Food Corp., a retailer-owned cooperative, based in Keasbey, New Jersey and the largest supermarket cooperative in the United States. With nearly 250 ShopRite supermarkets located throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland, ShopRite serves more than five million customers each week.
What’s the story on your experience in retail and your position your Wakefern?
I joined Wakefern in 2005 as a Corporate Dietitian, working on various project such as consumer education initiatives, healthy recipe development, and associate wellness programs. I realized very quickly that in order to really impact our ShopRite customer, we needed to deliver our information at the most crucial point where they’re making purchasing decision—right in our aisles. That’s when we made the decision to hire our first retail dietitian. Now, as the Manager of Health and Wellness for Wakefern, I oversee our Retail Dietitian Program, which continues to grow, as well develop programs for our customer that will make shopping for their health and wellness needs at ShopRite easier to do.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry? The biggest challenge I faced when I started was how to translate the science based and clinical information about diet and health into a retail environment where I needed to deliver consumer-friendly recommendations.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
Learning the retail side of the business was a challenge, so I spend as much time as I can in-store and learning from our owners. There is nothing better than being right where the rubber meets the road—in the store!
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
I am most proud of our Retail Dietitian Program. We have more than 60 stores covered by a dietitian today, and that number continues to grow.