RDBA Announces Finalists for 2014 Retail Dietitian of the Year

RDBA Announces Finalists for 2014 Retail Dietitian of the Year

May 21, 2014

Five of the retail industry’s top dietitians have been selected as finalists for the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance’s (RDBA) first-annual Retail Dietitian of the Year award.  This award was established to recognize a retail dietitian who demonstrates leadership by utilizing business skills and industry knowledge to positively impact consumer behavior change through the retail sector. 

“We were tremendously impressed with the nominations received for this award,” said Phil Lempert, CEO and President of the RDBA. “It’s clear that many registered dietitians are blazing new paths in retail, connecting the dots between health and wellness and business.”

The award winner will be announced and presented on June 12, 2014 at the FMI Connect show in Chicago.

 “RDBA congratulates the 2014 finalists—we are so proud of the work you are doing and honored to recognize your contributions to the retail industry,” said Lempert.

2014 Finalists

Jen Haugen, RDN, Hy-Vee

Jen’s role in the supermarket includes selling health to shoppers on a daily basis. As a supermarket dietitian for nearly six years, Jen recognizes the impact of a supermarket to improve health. She plays an integral role within the store working with fresh departments and center store to create award-winning promotions, including displays, educational messaging, and overall boosting sales. Jen also created and developed the first-in-the-nation garden and cooking program for kids, “Hy-Vee Sprouts – Get Out and Grow.” Jen has created partnerships within her community (The Hormel Institute, YMCA, Mayo Clinic Health System, Austin Public Schools, and Community Education) as well as national food industry partnerships (Midwest Dairy, Minnesota Beef Council, American Institute of Cancer Research, to name a few) to better the health of all shoppers. She has also developed relationships with local media to reach a broad audience and is a mentor to many other supermarket dietitians across the company. 

Comments from Jen’s colleagues:

  • “Jen is one of our key dietitian leaders in the company and excels with media of all types, innovative programs, and in-store promotions that result in revenue and community involvement.”
  • “Because of Jen’s years of experience working in the supermarket, she is sought after by store managers to create programs, displays, and coordinate with community organizations. Her cutting edge "Sprouts" Garden program has been adopted company wide and is the first of it's kind in a major retail chain.”


Patricia Hunter, MA, RD, LDN, CDE, Hannaford

Pat Hunter is the retail dietitian at the Hannaford Chelmsford, MA store. As a Hannaford Dietitian, Pat serves as the in-store nutrition expert for customers and associates, from conducting on-the-sales floor nutrition demos distributing healthy tips, food samples, coupons, recipes, giveaways, and branded collateral to answering questions about food items on the grocery store shelves and labeling programs such as Guiding Stars and Close to Home (Hannaford’s focus on local products). Pat provides group classes and nutrition counseling on conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and Celiac disease and develops content for Fresh Magazine, Hannaford’s healthy living newsletter, as well as other outlets. In addition, Pat works with her community to foster nutrition awareness through partnerships with local schools, hospitals, civic groups, and government agencies and provides in-house associates wellness programs and weekly nutrition "huddles.” She also represents Hannaford in media opportunities, and provides support to Hannaford’s private brand, in-store programs, marketing strategies, and sponsored products.

 Comments from Patricia’s colleagues:

  • “Pat’s ability to collaborate with retail associates in her store, leadership at corporate, like-minded partners within the community and individuals with whom she interacts makes her a model to others.”
  • “Pat piloted an innovative new display that showcases healthy products at her retail store.  Pat collaborated with her store leadership team and merchandising retail partners to create a recipe station for shoppers who are looking for healthy meal solutions.”


Stephanie Schultz, MSM, RDN, CD, Skogen’s Festival Foods

Stephanie is the Director of Health & Wellness at Skogen’s Festival Foods where she leads the development and oversight of all nutrition, regulatory, and food safety programming for Festival Foods. She is responsible for Health & Wellness Department leadership, working closely with company associates, guests, and community partners in an effort to educate on nutrition and food safety topics and services. She contributes to store profitability by increasing customer loyalty through timely nutrition services and works to prevent loss by monitoring food safety standards and assuring compliance with federal guidelines. As a community nutrition resource, Stephanie leads the implementation and maintenance of the NuVal® Nutritional Scoring System and the Eat Well at Festival Foods program. She is also a local and national media spokesperson for the organization. Stephanie has leveraged healthcare participation throughout Wisconsin and is working to bridge the gap for patients between receiving dietary recommendations and understanding their applications in everyday life.

Comments from Stephanie’s colleagues:

  • “[Stephanie] is an excellent example of what other Retailer RDs should aspire to become – strong business people.”
  • “A business person with an RD, not an RD who is a business person.”  This viewpoint defines the essence of Stephanie Schultz.”


Rachel Simpers, RD, ShopRite

Rachel is responsible for providing free nutrition services within the Hillsborough, NJ ShopRite location for customers and associates, as well as within her local community. She has established a strong community outreach program, including presentations at local schools as well as programs with Girl Scout and Cub Scout troops, local churches, senior programs, mom's clubs, and more. Within the store, Rachel conducts free nutrition consultations with customers and associates in addition to sales-driven demonstrations and events. She has implemented a "Meal of the week" program where she displays a weekly healthy recipe in a refrigerated case, including all of the ingredients for easy, one-stop-shopping for customers. Rachel samples the recipe to help drive sales and expose customers to new flavors and ingredients. In addition, she samples weekly produce and product picks throughout the store and assists customers during aisle walks.  Rachel also conducts monthly kids sampling events and cooking classes, which encourage parent and child experiences in the kitchen.

Comments from Rachel’s colleagues:

  • “With Rachel’s keen business savvy and personality, she was able to shine a positive light on the retail dietitian program and one of the reasons Village Super Market, Inc. now has 11 dietitians across their 29 stores.”
  • “Rachel has developed a savvy business relationship in her role as a Retail Dietitian.  She understands her ability to positively impact sales by simply graining customers trust as they become more familiar with her and her programs.”


Shari Steinbach, MS, RD, LD, Meijer

Shari is the Meijer Healthy Living Manager and leads a team of four additional Healthy Living Advisors and one Healthy Living Specialist. Based at the corporate office in Michigan, Shari organizes and attends meetings with other departments and outside organizations to incorporate collaboration. She helps her fellow associates reach their health goals by providing presentations and cooking demos occasionally through the “Meijer Employee Be Healthy” program. Shari is also heavily involved in community outreach in Western and Northern Michigan. She has regular TV spots on local stations; provides presentations to businesses and organizations; and attends events to promote the Meijer Healthy Living program.  Shari has worked in the retail industry for over 20 years and has developed keen networking skills, enabling her to effectively develop consumer programs with vendor partners to promote their products and support healthy living goals of customers in the preparation of family meals that are easy, affordable, and healthy.

Comments from Shari’s colleagues:

  • “As a manager, Shari has fine-tuned her negotiation skills to gain program support from Meijer corporate leadership, promoting the growth of health and wellness programs at Meijer.”
  • “Year after year, Shari has been able to demonstrate the very positive return on investment by the Healthy Living team, and she continues to work toward growing health and wellness initiatives at Meijer.”