RD Close-up: Linda Brophy, RDN, LDN, Cowhey Family ShopRite
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Please describe your role at ShopRite.
My role at ShopRite is to stay up-to-date on current food and nutrition topics, trends, and research and then translate that information into easily understandable language while teaching customers and associates practical ways to apply it to their lifestyles. I accomplish this through a variety of in-store events including teaching classes on healthy lifestyles and diabetes, conducting culinary demonstrations and tastings, leading customers on nutrition focused store tours, nutrition counseling, and engaging customers in the aisles while representing an “all foods fit” mindset to inspire and motivate them to feel and be well every day. I’m also active in community outreach to local senior centers, senior living campuses, libraries, schools, the chamber of commerce, the hospital and with other healthcare professionals.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?
I’m a second career dietitian, having worked in sales and management before deciding to combine my love of food, cooking, health and science to pursue a new career as a registered dietitian. I gained valuable experience prior to becoming an RDN as a nutrition services supervisor in a hospital working with a variety of therapeutic diets, and as a new RDN I provided nutrition counseling in an outpatient center. Ultimately, I’m excited to be able to apply my knowledge and practical experience to my role as a ShopRite retail dietitian for the last 3 ½ years, while being challenged to learn and grow in the retail environment.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
The biggest challenge for me working in the fast-paced retail industry has been the re-prioritizing of my to-do list almost constantly to keep up with the latest scientific research, customer demands, and emerging innovative products aimed at the latest food trends.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I was so focused on applying my skill set to the demands of being the first dietitian in the ShopRite of Warminster that I hadn’t considered how much fun it would be to work as a dietitian in a grocery store!
Has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward in your role?
Listening and communication skills honed in my previous sales career have definitely helped me be comfortable engaging with customers in all types of settings from the grocery aisles to large groups at community presentations. Also, my natural curiosity and appetite for learning have helped me to stay current on the latest scientific research as well as food trends.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
I’ve found the RDBA educational resources to be most valuable for keeping up with the fast pace of retail. Additionally, I earned a Certificate of Training in Culinary Nutrition from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and I’ve completed courses toward the Certificate of Training in Supermarket Business and Industry Skills to Thrive in Retail Dietetics.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
I’ve taken ShopRite’s Meals Made Well meal cart program and made it a weekly culinary demo and sampling event. Each week, I work with department managers to determine the brands to be featured in the meal cart for that week’s recipe. Then I merchandise the products in the cart and one day each week I do a cooking demo and sampling to encourage and inspire customers to do the same at home for their families. I meet customer objections during the demo by offering suggestions for swaps for foods they don’t like or special dietary needs. I also let customers know what the upcoming recipe will be so they can be sure to visit the Meals Made Well cart the next week. I make it a talking point at every in-store or community presentation as well as a destination for all store tours. Utilizing the Meals Made Well meal cart program as a customer engagement tool has resulted in increased sales of featured brands, and positive feedback from loyal customers indicates they are making these recipes time and again with great success.
Bio: Linda Brophy, RDN, LDN earned a B.S., Business Economics from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania; a B.S., Nutrition and Dietetics from West Chester University of Pennsylvania; and completed her Dietetic Internship with Sodexo. Serving as a retail dietitian is truly Linda’s passion, and she can’t imagine a more rewarding profession. By delivering in-store nutrition counseling, classes, store tours, cooking demos, and community outreach, she’s able to provide life-changing impacts that have helped hundreds of customers eat more healthfully, lose weight, manage diabetes and food allergies, and improve their overall wellness.