RD Close-Up: Bridget Wojciak, RDN, LD Director of Nutrition & Dietetics at Kroger
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
You were recently promoted at Kroger. Tell us about your new role.
As the Director of Nutrition and Dietetics, it’s my job to bring Kroger Health’s Food as Medicine philosophy to life through a dedicated, educated, and personalized approach to food and nutrition for our shoppers. This takes many forms from the OptUP app, which leverages dietitian expertise and machine learning to simplify healthier shopping, to working with insurance companies to forge pathways for reimbursement for better-for-you food and nutrition counseling. It also entails leading our team of clinical dietitians who provide patient care in-store and through telenutrition, as well as supporting nutrition research and working closely with our consumer data teams at 84.51 to shape informed nutrition programming.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and how you came to work at Kroger?
I started my career in long term care. As the only RD in the facility, it taught me the power of advocating for nutrition and teaching the interdisciplinary team the value the RD brings to patient care. Working with the same patients over the years, the rapport was gratifying but I could never shake the sensation of wishing I could do something for my patients thirty years earlier through preventative nutrition. Cue the switch to retail where I started as an in-store RD doing medical nutrition therapy with the ultimate teaching tool, the grocery aisles. Now as the Director of Nutrition and Dietetics I ensure we give the best care to our patients while also making better nutrition broadly available to the public.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
Being a chameleon across the retail industry. Remember in school when you had to know everything from the Krebs cycle to how to put out a pricing bid for an industrial oven to the details of government funded nutrition programming? Retail calls on a similar breadth of knowledge. Any given day requires knowledge of nutrition label legislation, digital and technology development, nutrition contract agreements, curriculum development, PES statements and clinical skills, to writing and public speaking skills. I have never spent a single day bored with my work as a retail dietitian.
What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your career in retail?
There will never be a “normal” or a moment when you “get into a groove.” Working outside your typical comfort zone is a sign of growth. The grocery industry is changing swiftly. The role of the retail dietitian will be ever adapting as shoppers change how they choose to purchase, prepare, and consume food.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that help you moved forward in your role?
My colleagues. All of them. In retail you’ll never know everything but you will always need to quickly learn new skills. Its easiest if you have great teachers. I’m fortunate to work with experts across the grocery and data industry. Taking time to know them, learn about their role and ask them questions have been drivers of success. From cashiers to supply chain to category managers. Each branch of retail has their own language. Everyone has something to teach you to help you improve.
What advice do you have for other retail dietitians looking to grow their careers in retail/get promoted?
Be adaptable and stay hungry (dietitian joke) to take on new challenges. Work will likely ask you to tackle many tasks at the same time. Demonstrate an ability to prioritize work to make sure the most important things are accomplished first. Understand the to-do list you started the day with will often be completely different by the end of the day. Never forget to thank those that help you along the way.
About Bridget (@dietitianbridget): Working with patients over the years, from nursing homes to grocery aisles sculpted Bridget’s core philosophy on nutrition. Food is too important and too delicious to be the source of stress. From mealtime, to grocery shopping, to grandma’s famous recipes, food should be celebrated and the moments its plays in our lives deserved to be remembered fondly. In her role as Director of Nutrition and Dietetics at Kroger Bridget works to bring shoppers science-backed, real life, and simple ways to enjoy personalized nutrition solutions. She understands healthy eating doesn’t mean dreading what’s on your plate.