Retail RD of the Year Finalists

Retail RD of the Year Finalists

May 23, 2018
Annette Maggi

By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

While Cassandra Umile was named the 2018 Retail RD of the Year, the competition was stiff.  Four other talented and innovative RDs with great business savvy were also in the running for the award.  Congratulations to these four finalists:

Lynette Hem-Lee, RDN, ShopRite Inserra Supermarkets   
In her position as the store’s Registered Dietitian, Lynette has many interactions with a multi-ethnic/multi-cultural population.  Lynette understands these ethic groups’ food and lifestyle choices and seamlessly supports nutrition interventions without changing customers’ cultural and ethnic preferences.  Each month, Lynette facilitates free health screenings assisted by medical students and residents from Jersey City Medical/RWJ Barnabas Health.  These screenings give the new physicians a unique opportunity to provide meaningful community service as part of their rotations.  

At ShopRite, Lynette is a vital member of the store management team. She has a well-stocked merchandising area that is changed monthly and demands continuous replenishment due to immediate customer purchases. Last spring, Lynette was excited to learn that the company was supporting local farmers within the NY/Metro area. However, she was disappointed when she couldn’t locate the local produce items because they were integrated with items from other suppliers.  Taking initiative and being creative, Lynette created a weekend farmers market, a replica of a Caribbean open market place.  The farmers market was so well received by the produce director that specific merchandising signs were created to point out the local produce in all Inserra ShopRite Stores.  

Lynette entered dietetics with background knowledge on retail business operations.  Her former career in Human Resources and Marketing in the restaurant industry helped prepare her for the Retail RD role. She is a true team player and works with each department to help drive sales. She is always eager to step-up and contribute to the store’s operations during busy periods because she understands the customers are the lifeline of the business. Lynette understands that by being a team player, store managers and associates feel confident in promoting her services to their friends, family members and customers.  

Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc.  
Elizabeth takes a big picture as well as a “boots-on-the-ground” approach to her role with Food City. She attends strategic planning meetings to provide her expertise for weekly ad promotions and in-store programming as well as recipe development with our culinary team and online content for website, blog, social media, and our loyalty wellness club. She also travels frequently to store communities to network with partners and sit on leadership boards for healthcare systems, governmental agencies, schools and universities, and nonprofit organizations.  Elizabeth works across all departments to compliment Food City initiatives and programming.  Elizabeth also focuses on the ROI of her programs by keeping track of customer and associate engagement, sales related to her programs, and media impressions. 

As a part of her master’s thesis research, Elizabeth provided standardized store tours for customers and collected impact data. Her research showed that 100% of participants learned something new as a result of the tour and 90% reported interest in attending another tour in the future. This qualitative data indicated that store tours are a popular, cost-effective form of nutrition education.  

During her interview at Food City, Elizabeth asked how the company would measure the success of her position. Steve Smith, Food City CEO and president, responded that success can be measured by “how much noise you make.” Elizabeth took his advice and focused on creating lasting partnerships within the company and externally to place herself as a valuable health resource in our communities.

Johna Mailolli, RD, ShopRite Inserra Supermarkets  
Upon starting this position in September 2016, Johna noticed that her store had few healthy snack options. In the past year and a half, she has worked with her grocery manager to bring in over 30 healthy snacks that the store did not carry in the past. She has also worked with her department managers to increase sales for perishable items such as functional beverages, bars, and pre-cooked meals by acquiring a cooler that has become known as the “dietitian cooler.” This cooler, which is located next to the dietitian’s office, has created an increase in sales for both new and existing products.  Johna is proud to say that after reviewing the sales of 30 of the new items that she has brought into her store over the past year, the store has benefited from an additional $7,600 in gross profit.  

Johna has been successful in is the promotion of fruits and vegetables with both adults and children. Every few months, she hosts a free kids class that encourages children to eat more fruits and vegetables in fun ways. During Halloween, she hosted a free “Spooky Fruit” event where 15 kids got to sample various exotic fruits. 

Johna is very proud to say that through promoting the More Matters Initiative throughout her store and events, she was elected the Produce for Better Health’s Foundation Supermarket Dietitian of the Year award for 2018.  This program is known as Melodies and Meals. Johna hosts this in-store event every other month, where the power of music and nutrition education are combined. At this event, Johna uses the Shoprite Well Everyday theme and demonstrates how to make 2-3 easy, nutritious recipes.  In between the cooking demos, live music is offered to the customers by a guest musician.  Customers are immediately captivated by the live music they hear when walking into the store and are drawn toward the dietitian’s area. Customers have an opportunity to learn about the free nutrition services, discover and taste new recipes, and hear live music by the musical guest. This unique event attracted two local newspapers to write articles on the store’s program which helped promote the store as well as the dietitian services. Due to its success, this program is being considered for implementation in other Inserra Shoprite stores.

Fran Weiss, MS, RDN, CDN Hannaford Supermarkets 
Fran acts as a liaison between the store and the community on nutrition and food-related customer issues. She keeps nutrition programs energized by monthly themes and scheduled activities. She communicates with store management about nutrition programs and elicits feedback to best meet customer needs. She provides a monthly report on number of customers seen and activities completed which demonstrate program impact.  She has a great partnership with CDPHP (Capital District Physicians' Health Plan) and partners with them on in-store events a couple times a year. She supports in-store "Dietitian Recommends" display in the Albany store. In the first quarter, amongst the stores where the program is piloting, an average of 10% increased movement over the same time last year has been seen. Management regularly receives feedback about how Fran is impacting customers and associates. She has shoppers that are willing to drive specifically to her stores to get that personable interaction.  She's a skilled public speaker and is able to easily communicate her knowledge to shoppers, associates and the community in an easy-to-understand way.