RD Close Up: Diana Fransis, RD, Retail Dietitian Supervisor, ShopRite
Interviewed by RDBA Contributing Editor Amanda Rubizhevsky, MPH, NC
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?
I started with Wakefern Food Corp. as a nutrition intern in 2010 and worked for three years while completing my undergraduate degree in nutrition. After completing my dietetic internship, I realized my true passions were in the field of nutrition and wellness, and was lucky to be placed in a supervisory role with the company shortly after graduation. It has been amazing to see ShopRite’s Retail Dietitian program expand from just ten dietitians in 2010 to now over 120… and the program is still growing. As a supervisor, I hire, train and manage the growth of our Retail Dietitian Program.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
Learning and understanding how to incorporate our company’s business needs into the health and wellness programs I develop for our stores and our customers is an ongoing challenge, but something I enjoy and find immensely rewarding.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I wish I would have had a better understanding of business skills and retail store operations.
Has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward in your career?
Health and Wellness is truly part of our corporate culture at Wakefern Food Corp., and having the support from upper management has helped me to move forward both personally and professionally. I am fortunate to work for a company that allows and encourages personal growth opportunities.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
Educating myself with the skill sets necessary to integrate health and wellness into our retail environment. With the support of Wakefern, I have been fortunate to take classes to develop skills such as media, marketing, communication, leadership and even negotiations.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why:
ShopRite’s “Eat Well Be Happy” weight management program is a six-week class that we implemented in January 2014. I developed a toolkit that included signage, class outlines, talking points, customer handouts, and giveaways. This program has been a huge success in all of our stores. In addition to these classes, many of the dietitians have added monthly weight management support groups. These groups are so popular they often have waiting lists for upcoming classes.
In addition, we recently added dietitian consulting, classes and programs for our corporate Wakefern associates. In just the few months that this has been in place, we have had an amazing response and great turnout for programs. The amount of positive feedback from associates has been truly rewarding and it makes me proud to do what I do every day, because I know I am helping to improve people’s lives.
More about Diana
As the Retail Dietitian Supervisor for the central and north New Jersey district, including New York and Connecticut, Diana manages a team of ShopRite Retail Dietitians. Diana works closely with more than 120 registered dietitians across 130 stores to train them in working with customers to educate them on making healthier choices while food shopping, as well as carrying out these choices by preparing healthy well-balanced meals.
In 2012, Diana received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Sciences from Rutgers University. She completed her dietetic internship at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. While still in school, Diana was employed for three years at Wakefern Food Corp. as a nutrition intern.
As part of ShopRite’s Retail Dietitian team, Diana is one of more than 120 Registered Dietitians who service ShopRite stores in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Maryland. Together these Dietitians offer nutrition advice, meal planning, and diet modification for specific medical conditions.