RD Close Up Kayla Graves MS, RD, LD: Balls Food Stores
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?
Before I started working for Balls Foods I was a customer at one of their Hen House stores. I always enjoyed shopping there because they had a large selection of local products, quality produce and meat and great customer service. I remember driving past the store one day with my husband and telling him “it would be so cool to work as a dietitian there.” A few months later I saw a job posting and applied.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
The biggest challenge for me has been being the only dietitian employed by my company. I promote employee, customer and community wellness and also help manage our CSA program. It can be difficult to juggle all the different areas and to figure out where to best channel my time and energy. My job is definitely not boring, and I do enjoy getting to be a part of so many different areas.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I wish I was more familiar with the business and marketing aspects of retail. It is important to be able to market and promote services effectively so that customers know you are available and want to participate in the programs you offer.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back? If yes, tell us about this and how you dealt with it.
I think fear of failing held me back in the beginning of my career. I think most dietitians are “type A” personalities who like plans and structure. My job is not one where my day is 100% planned out and I complete steps A, B, and C and I’m finished. For the most part, I am working on multiple projects and trying to be flexible with whatever comes my way. Initially, it was overwhelming, but has gotten much easier as I have more experience. Now I have found that I truly enjoy the flexibility of my schedule.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward?
I think it is important to realize that not everything you do will be a success, but it is a great opportunity to learn. I don’t have any prior retail experience so I am learning as I go along! I have great support from management to try new things, which makes all the difference.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
I think networking with other retail dietitians and building relationships with co-workers is really important. There are a lot of people who have worked in the retail setting longer than I have so I try to soak up all the knowledge I can from them
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
Each month my company has a lunch for all the corporate employees. I have been implementing some healthier alternatives into the menu rotation, which have been well received! After the first lunch I received a few emails thanking me for providing healthier alternatives.
Kayla Graves is the registered dietitian for Balls Food Stores. She attended Missouri State University in Springfield, MO where she obtained Bachelor of Science degrees in Dietetics and Exercise and Movement Science. She completed her dietetic internship and Master of Science in Dietetics and Nutrition at The University of Kansas Medical Center. She is passionate about preventative health care and finding creative ways to prepare food so that it is both delicious and healthy.
About Ball’s Food Stores
Ball’s Food Stores are a local Kansas City grocer. There are currently 28 stores spread throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area under the names of Hen House Market and Ball’s Price Chopper. The vision of the company is to be the best run, friendliest supermarkets in town, where teammates are passionate about providing excellent customer service and where customers love to shop.