RD Close-Up: Lynette Hem-Lee, RDN, Inserra Supermarket Inc., ShopRite of Jersey City
By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Please describe your role at ShopRite.
I am an in-store retail dietitian, a position I have held for the past 6 ½ years. I am involved in community events, associate wellness and nutrition counseling. Many of these programs are currently virtual because of the pandemic. I am an avid team player, and I don’t hesitate to get involved in any area of the store to meet the customer needs.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and how you came to work at your retailer?
I always loved retail. My first career I was the Human Resource Manager for a chain of fast food restaurants in Trinidad & Tobago. My first rotation in my internship was at a ShopRite, and I fell in love with the ability to reach so many different people from a health and wellness standpoint. I told my preceptor “I wanted to be Shoprite Dietitian!” One year later, I was employed in my current role.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
The biggest challenge was the ability to wear many different hats at the same time. I felt like my internship never ended.
What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your career in retail?
The ability to teach cooking classes. I love cooking and I know how to cook, but teaching this skill is very challenging!
Has there been anything specific that has held you back?
I am not very tech savvy and I feel this has been my downfall especially in this era of COVID-19.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that help you moved forward in your role?
I am very good at networking and connecting with people. This skill has allowed me to develop some amazing relationships over the years that has benefitted not only me but my company. In short, I am a people person!
Is there a program or initiative of which you are most proud?
I am always creating and looking at different ways to do things. One of my biggest and most successful initiative was creating and indoor farmers’ market to promote local farmers. My grandparents were farmers and my mom used to go to the marketplace to sell the beautiful fruits and vegetables; sometimes I got to tag along. To me, the market was always buzzing with excitement and the most interesting people. I wanted to bring this same feeling to my indoor farmer’s market, and I believe I did. Customers will take pictures, compliment me on the set-up, and of course, they shop. It bought lots of weekend excitement to the store. Many of the ideas from my farmers’ market are still being implemented throughout our group.
About Lynette: I am a diverse dietitian using a food first approach to help Customers Bridge the gap with nutrition education and realistic implementation. My first career was in Human Resource Management. When I immigrated to the United States, I went back to school to complete my MBA but decided to change career and become a dietitian. I pride myself on the fact that I re-engineered my life and became a dietitian at the age of 50. I am the mother of 4 and am also an 11-year breast cancer survivor. My passion as a dietitian is to help people understand how food impacts their health and wellbeing, and to provide this education in a positive and practical manner.