RD Close Up: Taylor Newman, PhD, RDN, LD, Director of Nutrition Kroger Co.
By Stephanie Schultz, RD Ambassador to the RDBA
Please describe your role at your retailer.
As the Director of Nutrition, I lead the Kroger Co.’s Food as Medicine team and strategy. My team, made up of dietitians, develops different food and nutrition products and services for our shoppers to help them live healthier lives. This includes Telenutrition, our one-on-one video chat with Kroger Health registered dietitians; healthful food boxes; and OptUP, Kroger’s proprietary nutrition rating system found on Kroger.com and the Kroger app. My team also serves as the Kroger Co.’s subject matter experts in nutrition, directing research initiatives and supporting food advocacy efforts to amplify the role of the dietitian and the grocery store as a healthcare destination.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and how you came to work at your retailer?
My original passion was food policy at the federal level with the goal of improving access to healthful food for people across the country. When I met with the Kroger Food as Medicine team, I realized the wide impact they had, and could continue to have, on shoppers nationwide. They were leaders in the Food as Medicine space, helping equip shoppers to choose healthier options right in the grocery aisles. I left that meeting knowing I wanted to be a part of their team and that journey. I started as a Nutrition Program Development Manager in February of 2021 and recently moved into my new role as Director of Nutrition this past fall.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
Being my own subject matter expert has been the biggest challenge. Working in the retail industry requires you to leverage both your knowledge as a dietitian and business expertise to make strategic decisions. Viewing every day through multiple lenses keeps my work interesting!
What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your career in retail?
I wish I had known the importance of developing a business case for the work you do. A well-developed business case is key to justifying stakeholder prioritization when your team is looking to accomplish its goals.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back? If yes, tell us about it and how you dealt with it.
When I first came to Kroger, I had to gather the puzzle pieces of how to build a program from scratch within a large company with many stakeholders. I work much more efficiently now that I know what steps need to be taken to get work off the ground and who to go to when I need to leverage a team’s expertise.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that helped you moved forward in your role?
Having a wonderful mentor and team. Kroger’s prior Director of Nutrition, Bridget Wojciak, consistently gave me a seat at the table so I could gain the knowledge and skills required to step into the role. Additionally, the team I work with at Kroger truly believes in helping people live healthier lives. Their passion inspires me every day to dream bigger.
Taylor Newman, PhD, RDN, is striving towards a world where everyone has access to adequate, nutritious foods. Taylor is the Director of Nutrition at the Kroger Co. where she leads Kroger’s Food as Medicine team to help people live healthier lives at the forefront of consumer decision making. She is a subject matter expert on nutrition prescriptions and has published peer-reviewed papers on the topic.