Retail Dietitians: The Secret Ingredient for Healthy Retail, Part Two

Retail Dietitians: The Secret Ingredient for Healthy Retail, Part Two

January 28, 2013
Career DevelopmentHuman Resources

Allison Beadle
Editor, RDBA Weekly

Last week, we shared some insights from Judy Dodd, MS, RD, LDN, FADA, who has been the Healthy Living Advisor for Giant Eagle for 20 years. Today, we’re going to continue the conversation with Dodd, focusing on retail dietitian hiring practices and key attributes for retailers to consider when hiring dietitians.

It seems that retailers are taking several approaches to hiring registered dietitians (RDs)—some are corporate employees, some are store employees, some are part-time, some are full-time, some are consultants. Can you shed some light on this decision making?

These are decisions made at the corporate level based on the business of the specific retailer. I was hired as an exclusive consultant for Giant Eagle from the beginning so that I could maintain my professional independence. At Giant Eagle, we decide as we go and hire based on our needs. We have found that a mix of full-time and part-time RDs working both in-store and at the corporate office works well for us, and we also have per diem RD consultants.    

What are the driving forces behind determining a registered dietitian's job description and situation on the organizational chart?

Obviously this varies from retailer to retailer, and these are decisions made at the management level. Some of the factors taken into consideration include: which department is funding the position, family or private chain ownership, franchise or corporate chain structure.

What advise do you have for retailers who are interested in hiring a dietitian?

Hiring an RD enables you to have a credentialed nutrition professional on staff, which provides you with the opportunity to deliver nutrition education in all states where you are located.  

All RDs have an educational foundation in food and nutrition, but depending on the expectations some added skills, interest, or experience are pluses. Culinary and good demo, communication and media skills, writing, business, leadership and community networks are very useful. The job requires flexibility and thinking on your feet. Added practice in diabetes, allergies, and pediatrics may be needed along with a second language other than English.   

Judy DoddJudy Dodd is a registered dietitian, and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh.  Academically, her degrees are from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh.  Along with teaching at the university level, she is a consultant on child nutrition issues and Food and Nutrition Advisor to Giant Eagle, Inc.    Active in her community and in her profession, she is a past president of the American Dietetic Association, a volunteer leader and spokesperson for the local affiliate of the American Heart Association.