Empowering Advocates for Change


Just one week after a giant blizzard hit the East Coast, 51 dietitians, health & wellness directors, category managers, and communications specialists from supermarkets in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and Australia, came together under sunny skies at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, AZ, to network and meet with 32 representatives from food companies and commodity boards. The symposium, now in its seventh year, is supported through the generosity of our sponsor partners, who join Oldways in believing that supermarkets play an important role in transforming public health and that dietitians are key players when it comes to advocating for customer health.

This year’s event themed, “Empowering Advocates for Change,” highlighted a wide variety of timely, educational presentations from dietitians and other health professionals, and was approved for 11 CPEUs.  Breakout sessions led by dietitian leaders aimed at helping attendees gain valuable skills to advocate for their roles within retail. Although data from the Food Marketing Institute (2015) reported that 95% of U.S. retailers employ a dietitian at the corporate, regional or store level, the past seven years of this event have witnessed a ~20% turnover rate of RDNs leaving their supermarket jobs, pursuing positions outside of retail altogether.

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RDN, Director of Nutrition for WebMD, led an important session on ethics and responsible communications aimed at helping dietitians walk the balance as health professionals working in the retail sector. And as more dietitians and supermarkets evolve to reach consumers with social media, Sharon Palmer, RD, Nutrition Editor for Today’s Dietitian magazine and Erin Long, MS, RDN, Retail Healthy Living Coordinator at Weis Markets led an informative session on “Making Videos on a Shoestring.”



The 2017 symposium featured 17 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
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The Other “F” Word: Mending America’s Relationship with Dietary Fat —
Understanding the Role of California Walnuts and Hass Avocados

• Jennifer Olmstead, Marketing Director, California Walnut Board & Commission
• Erin Long, MS, RDN, LDN, Retail Healthy Living Coordinator, Weis Markets
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• Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, FAHA, Chief of Cardiology,
University of Arizona School of Medicine, on behalf of the Hass Avocado Board
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Reaching Consumers by Focusing on the Positives: It’s all Yolkay
Tia M. Rains, PhD, Executive Director, Egg Nutrition Center
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Rethinking Nutrition Labeling — Current Landscape and Future Opportunities
Jessica P. O’Connell, Special Counsel, Covington & Burling LLP, on behalf of KIND Snacks
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Snack Forward: How Consumer Demand Is Shaping Snacking in America
Elizabeth Roark, RD, Nutrition Principal Scientist, Frito-Lay
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The Changing Snack Landscape
Jenny Heap, MS, RDN, Corporate Nutritionist, Almond Board of California
Presentation not available

From the Lab to the Shelf: Using Nutrition Research to Guide Product Marketing Programs
Jenn LaVardera, MS, RD, Nutrition and Health Communications Manager, Dole Nutrition Institute
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Shopping for Sweetness: Addressing Questions about Low Calorie Sweeteners
Berna Magnuson, PhD, ATS, on behalf of SPLENDA®Sweeteners
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Social Savvy ‘Shrooms: New Social Media Trends Every Retail RDN Needs to Know
Kara Lydon, RD, LDN, RYT, on behalf of the Mushroom Council
Carrie Taylor, RDN, LDN, Lead Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Big Y Foods
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Supermarket Dietitian Spotlights:


Latino Shopper Nutrition Initiatives
Teresa Blanco, Northgate Gonzalez Markets
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Healthy Convenience
Erica Flint, RD, Kwik Trip, Inc.
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The Challenges of Communicating Nutrition and Sustainability in Supermarkets
Monica Amburn, MS, RD, LDN, Senior Director of Health and Wellness, Vestcom
Please email Monica at mamburn@vestcom.com for access to this presentation

Successful Brand Promotions at Your Retailer: Wonderful Case Study
Lauren Tulig, RDN,CD, Dietitian Manager, Skogen’s Festival Foods
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The Nutrition Facts Label: What’s Changing and Why It Matters
Lesley Shiery, MS, RD, Senior Nutrition Scientist, General Mills
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Supermarket Dietitian Spotlight:
Global Supermarket RD Perspective from the UK to Australia
Vanessa Clarkson, RD, Nutrition Consultant, Thrive Nutrition Experts
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