Building a Bridge Between Pharmacy & Food
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
With more people managing chronic diseases than ever before, and given the link between eating habits and disease, supermarket pharmacists and dietitians are working together on programs to help individuals shop the total store more healthfully. If your store has an instore pharmacy and an instore dietitian it can be easy to form a collaborative partnership. However, if you have a small RDN team or limited pharmacies it can be more challenging, but not impossible. There are many creative ways to build bridges for shoppers to cross over from pharmacy to food aisles and back. Here are a few examples:
- Utilize key health promotion months as a backdrop for food and pharmacy teamwork for an easy win. February is heart health month and diabetes management is a focus for November. Use these timeframes to:
- Promote your disease specific store tours or classes near the pharmacy
- Provide shopping lists and recipes with a link to a sample menu plans on your website
- Create a healthy food endcap near pharmacy
- Provide digital coupons for better-for-you foods
- Invite your pharmacist to accompany you to a media segment so you can discuss both medication and food solutions for key health issues.
- Utilize pharmacy bags to educate customers on monthly nutrition topics. Provide healthy eating tips directly on the bag if able, or attach. Include a coupon for a new healthier product.
- Provide a demo or display in the pharmacy area that promotes both food and supplement sources of key nutrients of interest such as fiber or omega 3s.
- As mothers-to-be come to your pharmacy to pick up their prenatal vitamins, provide feeding guidelines for infants and promote products in your baby food aisle.
- Cold and flu season provides a great time to promote immune-boosting foods or products that provide hydration and comfort during illnesses. How about an easy chicken soup recipe?
- If you’re educating shoppers on packing back-to-school lunches don’t forget to promote your pharmacy’s immunization/vaccination program. This can be promoted during the travel season as well.
- Address special needs of customers and their families. Perhaps offering food and supplement suggestions for individuals undergoing cancer treatment or for seniors who are not eating well.
- Near a college or university? Promote your local pharmacy services along with ways to fill a mini-fridge with healthy, energizing snacks or quick, affordable meal ideas for apartment dwelling.
Dietitians and pharmacists have the opportunity to work together closer to create a whole health environment for customers. Disease state management and combining seasonal health solutions in food and pharmacy can produce positive outcomes for the customers you serve and for your retailer.