Building Partnerships, Creating Solutions

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Oldways 6th annual Supermarket Dietitian Symposium, March 20-22, 2016, lived up to all of its expectations in a city known for its food — New Orleans. Made possible through the generous support of Oldways sponsor partners who recognize the value RDN’s add to the retail landscape, the event, hosted at the Ritz Carlton, offered two full days of opportunities for supermarket dietitians and sponsor representatives to share ideas and perspectives. The kick-off networking reception, held in the charming outdoor courtyard (see above group photo, taken in the courtyard) created a buzz as returning attendees reconnected with their friends and colleagues from years’ past and dietitians new to the retail world gained a first-hand appreciation of the important community support available to them. 

Louisiana resident Esther Ellis, MS, RD, LDN, from Rouses Markets, sent us this comment: 

“Thank you so much for inviting me to attend the conference! I had a wonderful time and learned so much that will help me moving forward.  Recently I felt as though I hit a wall in knowing how to have a plan to progress as the first RD for Rouses.  Thanks to the symposium I have so many ideas and it feels great knowing that I’m not the only one with certain struggles. I look forward to next year!”

Supermarket dietitian “veterans” from retailers, including Hy-Vee, Wakefern (ShopRite), Delhaize (Hannaford Bros.), Giant Eagle, H-E-B, and Kroger shared “Spotlights” or led discussion groups to showcase programs they have successfully implemented. These programs offer valuable nutrition education services to engage shoppers and provide a new source of revenue and competitive edge. Julie McMillin, RD, LD, the Director of Health and Wellness at Hy-Vee, speaking on behalf of Unilever, shared information on the shift in consumer needs, wants, and purchasing behavior. The Kroger Company’s team of dietitians, led by Eileen Myers, MPH, RD, LDN, FAND, shared updates on The Little Clinic, which has plans to expand nutrition services throughout the company, including King Soopers, one of their divisions located in Colorado.  Ellie Wilson, MS, RD, CDN from Price Chopper (NY) shared ideas on how their Family Meals Matter campaign has provided a meaningful platform to connect with consumers. Rita Zapien, MS, RD, LD, CED, an H-E-B regional dietitian located in Houston, TX, shared exciting news about the success of her retailer’s annual “SlimDown Showdown” competition which inspires the community on topics of good nutrition and exercise.


Hadley Johnson, healthy living marketing specialist and manager of Hannaford’s award-winning retail dietitian program, sent us this comment: 

“I cannot imagine how much planning and coordination went into building this incredible, vibrant, and holistic symposium, but I feel honored that you included me in the fun. It was a great opportunity to learn what others are doing in the industry as well as share our own personal success stories.”

In addition to a program chock-full of retail insights, trends, and valuable information to help supermarket dietitians be successful in educating consumers and raising the bar for retail-based health programs, there was no shortage of great food and fun activities.  Providing meals that support the Oldways mission -  highlighting the unique cultural background of regional food -  is an integral part of the program’s success. Although food from the South may conjure thoughts of fried chicken, there is also a rich history of traditional foods that in fact have roots in good health and nutrition. The group enjoyed off-site dinners at two restaurants run by award-winning chefs: John Besh’s Restaurant August and Donald Link’s private dining room, Calcasieu.  There was plenty of local shrimp on the menu, as well as black-eyed peas, okra, collard greens, fried green tomatoes, Cajun and creole flavors, and of course, beignets for dessert. 

The program concluded with fun and fitness, as attendees spent the afternoon exploring the French Quarter on foot, competing in an iPhone scavenger hunt that brought them face-to-face with the rich history, traditions, and culture of the city.  As in years past, attendees left inspired with new ideas and friends as well as many great memories. 



The 2016 symposium featured 19 presentations. You will find copies of some of the speakers’ presentations below. Do keep in mind that speakers add considerable information orally that is not available in the PDFs. And, please note that these works are copyrighted by each speaker and may not be reproduced without the speaker’s written permission.

Setting the Stage
Barbara Ruhs, MS, RDN, LDN
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The Shift in Consumer Needs, Wants, and Purchasing Behavior
Julie McMillin, RD, LD, Director of Health and Wellness, HY-Vee, Inc., on behalf of Unilever
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General Mills and Supermarket Dietitians: Achieving More Together
Marissa McCormick, MS, RD, Nutrition Scientist, Global Health and Wellness Communications, Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition
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Why Consumers Need Better, Science-Based Information About the Safety of Produce
Carl L. Keen, PhD, Professor of Nutrition and Internal Medicine, University of California, Davis, on behalf of of the California Strawberry Commission
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Shifting Snack Habits and Trends Provide Opportunities for Retail Dietitians
Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, M.Ed., RD, LD, on behalf of KIND Snacks
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Prevention and Treatment of Heart Disease: A Fresh Look at the Science
James Painter, PhD, RD, on behalf of National Pasteurized Eggs
PDF Not Available

What Retail Dietitians Need to Know About the Trend Toward Plant-Based
Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, Nutrition Consultant, Mushroom Council
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Supermarket Dietitian Spotlights:

Price Chopper: Family Mealtimes Matter
Ellie Wilson, MS, RD, CDN, Senior Nutritionist
PDF Not Available

Marsh Supermarkets: Fresh Ideas for Education
Mary D. Snell, MS, RD, Director of Nutrition and Wellness Marketing
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Nutrition Data and the Omni Channel Experience
Monica Amburn, RD, LDN, Director of Health and Wellness, Vestcom/healthyAisles
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Take it Home: Teach Your Customers to be Fearless with Global Flavors
Garrett Berdan, RDN, LD, on behalf of the National Turkey Federation
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Supermarket Dietitian Spotlights:

The Kroger Company: The Little Clinic
Molly Hembree, RDN, LD, Retail Dietitian Coordinator

Allison Kuhn, MS, RDN, LD, Director of Retail Dietetics

Eileen S. Myers, MPH, RD, LDN, FAND, VP Retail Dietitians and Nutrition Solutions
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Blueprint for Using Sorghum: A Versatile, Delicious, and Gluten-Free Grain
Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, on behalf of the United Sorghum Checkoff Program
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Avocado Shopper Insights and Consumer Trends
Maggie Bezart Hall, Vice President of Trade and Promotion, Avocados from Mexico
PDF Not Available

Organic Dairy: Updates and Insights
Sara Tedeschi, Nutrition Educator, on behalf of Organic Valley
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Supermarket Dietitian Spotlights:

H-E-B: Slimdown Showdown
Rita Andrea Zapien, MS, RD, LD, CDE, Houston Regional Dietitian
PDF Not Available

Harmons Grocery Stores: Dietitians Choice
Jonnell Masson, MS, RD, Dietitian Coordinator
PDF Not Available

Giant Eagle: Nutrition Made Simple with Dietitian’s Pick
Samantha Montgomery, MS, RD, LDN, Manager of Dietitian and Nutrition Education
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