RD Close-Up: Jenni Dreyer, MS, RDN, CD, Nutrition Communications Specialist at Skogen’s Festival Foods
By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Please describe your role at Skogen’s Festival Foods.
I'm a Nutrition Communications Specialist with Festival Foods. I'm part of a three-person RD team known as the Mealtime Mentors. As part of my role, I help develop recipes for our Meal Ideas site, facilitate Appetite, the weekly email presented by the Mealtime Mentors, host virtual cooking classes, and work with vendors to promote new innovations.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and how you came to work at your retailer?
As an avid food lover, I always knew that I wanted to work in a capacity where I could combine my love for cooking and nutrition. I started my career working in public nutrition and school food service. When I saw the job posting for an opening at Festival Foods, I knew I had to take the chance and make a career change. That was four years ago! I fall more and more in love with my job each day. It's the perfect balance of education, cooking and marketing and endless opportunities to learn and do more.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
In my previous roles, I worked alone on many projects and rarely had the opportunity to collaborate with other people. In retail, collaboration is key. Working with my teammates and other departments in the company has allowed the RD team to develop more robust programs that can serve a wider range of needs. As an added bonus, collaboration with other departments also keeps our team more front-of-mind so that we get approached with even more opportunities.
What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your career in retail?
That every retail job is different and that there are so many opportunities. I accepted the job thinking I would be doing one thing, but the role has evolved immensely over the last four years. For example, we have shifted from in-store guest experiences to more digital communications - virtual cooking classes, virtual store tours, and e-commerce integration with our recipes. I also had no idea that every retail dietitian's role is slightly different; it's definitely not a cookie-cutter career!
Has there been anything specific that has held you back?
My biggest hurdle was (and is) the unfamiliarity with the operations side of the retail business. There are so many intricacies to the various roles throughout our company. Working closely with teams outside of my own has helped me get a better grasp on what all needs to happen to make a store run.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that helped you move forward in your role?
Saying "yes" to new opportunities. I had the opportunity to lead the holiday campaign in 2020 and it was a true exercise in stretching myself to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. But this "yes" turned into a bright spot in 2020 - we were able to engage with our guests in a new way and boost vendor support as well.
Is there a program or initiative of which you are most proud?
Our Virtual Cooking Classes were developed after our services changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. They were a great way for us to stay connected with our guests, reach a large audience and work with vendor partners. Our class topics range from kid-friendly recipes to date night drink and food pairings. We host classes live and have them available to view on-demand as well.
Bio: Jenni Dreyer, MS, RDN, CD completed her MS in Dietetics from Kansas State University and her BS in Dietetics from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She completed her dietetic internship at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay and has been practicing as a registered dietitian for over nine years. In her career, Jenni has worked in K-12 food service management and with federal Child Nutrition Programs. She currently works for Skogen's Festival Foods as a Nutrition Communications Specialist. Jenni is passionate about making healthy habits easy and believes that good nutrition shouldn’t be difficult or confusing. Her biggest passion is getting people back into the kitchen and learning how to explore and love new foods. Jenni lives in Appleton, Wisconsin, with her husband, Mike, and their two children, Theo and Elijah.