RD Close-up: Kerry Clifford, MS, RD, LDN, Corporate Dietitian & Spokesperson, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?
My first experience in retail was during high school as a Pharmacy Technician at Walgreens. Working with sick people made me realize the importance of food and nutrition as medicine. Growing up in a family where my Mom shopped and meal prepped every week was the foundation for my career as a dietitian. I started my career in Corporate Wellness, but when the job for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market became available, multiple friends sent it to me knowing it would be my dream job.
I was hired as the first Dietitian for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in February of 2017. Together with one other Dietitian (Meghan Sedivy, RD, LDN), we created our job description and built our role from the ground up. Today, we act as the spokespeople with media in 10 states, develop content for our in-store magazine Crave, host Facebook live segments to customers, conduct in-store events, create monthly promotions, and develop programs that assist our customers in achieving a healthier lifestyle (Kid’s Nutrition and Fueling Fitness with Fresh Thyme).
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
Communicating the important role the RD plays in a corporate retail setting. Many people thought I was here to be the food police for our employees, and on my first day some people were planning to set up individual appointments with me. Some other staff believed I was here to do store tours every day.
With only two dietitians covering roughly 70 stores, using a scalable strategy behind my role has been the biggest challenge to date. Using senior level leadership to really leverage our role has been our biggest key to success.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
Retail never rests. Our business hours, like many, are 7am to 10pm daily, which means business goes on nights and weekends.
What has helped you move forward in your retail role?
Not being afraid to fail and embracing a trial and error mentality. As a 4-year-old company, my role is ever changing to keep up with industry trends and changing needs of our company as we grow.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
Crave is Fresh Thyme’s free in-store magazine in which that I have a large role. Crave is a bright magazine with vendor supported recipes, new items to the store and a Dietitian’s corner that educates customers.
Kerry Clifford, MS, RD, LDN received an honors Bachelor of Science degree from Purdue University in Dietetics and Fitness & Health in West Lafayette, IN. Spending a summer studying Sustainable Food Systems in Florence, Italy shaped her philosophy to whole, real foods that taste great. She also completed her Master of Science and Dietetic Internship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. Growing up in Minnesota, she also enjoys skiing, running marathons and being active. Kerry’s excitement and passion for nutrition has been featured in multiple live TV interviews, radio segments, facebook lives and more!