RD Close-Up: Monica Hansen, RD, Village Dietitian Team
By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Please describe your role at ShopRite.
I am a retail registered dietitian for Village Supermarket ShopRites in NJ, NY, PA, and MD, currently offering virtual nutrition consultations, cooking classes for all ages, and nutrition education programs for adults and children in the community.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and how you came to work at ShopRite?
My first job was a retail position I stayed at for seven years. I was working for another supermarket chain as a cashier, then transitioned to the bakery department. I absolutely loved the supermarket setting, but once I finished college, they did not have opportunities in the field of nutrition. During my nutrition internship, I requested a rotation at a ShopRite and enjoyed every second. Once out of the internship I was constantly monitoring for ShopRite dietitian openings, and alas- I got lucky!
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
The main challenge that I adjusted to was recognizing that just because you come up with a good idea, doesn’t mean it will be a good idea in a retail setting. You have to be willing to constantly re-evaluate and adjust.
What is one thing you wish you had known before starting your career in retail?
I wish I had known to expect resistance and to embrace it. Change doesn’t come about without a little resistance from what has always been, so stay passionate and focused.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back?
My first ShopRite store was a smaller store, and the store manager had worked in retail management for about 50 years. He was very outward with his thoughts on a dietitian in his grocery store, but we learned to work together towards a common goal- sales! I also learned that he loved to connect with the community, so I would invite him to events and introduce him to community members I worked with. He joined me one year for the National Nutrition Month proclamation and met the Mayor! I had to break down his preconceived idea of “value” in retail and show him firsthand what I was able to contribute.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that help you moved forward in your role?
Always saying thank you. From something as little as someone grabbing a box of product, to hosting a program together or changing the garbage after a cooking class, whatever it might be! I can’t stress this enough. Recognition goes a long way and it has made it easier for me thereafter.
Is there a program or initiative of which you are most proud?
I am most proud of my “Little Foodies” series of virtual cooking classes, enacted after the pandemic began. It was a struggle to get this program off the ground and get the resources together to make it a functioning program, but months later we have our very own “following” of children who join every month to participate and learn. It always lifts my spirits!
Bio: Monica graduated from Rutgers University, Cook College, in 2010 with a BS degree in nutritional sciences. She went on to complete her internship at Montclair State University, graduating with the Clinical Excellence Award for her class. Her first job was at Atlantic City WIC, where she worked for a year as Chief Nutritionist educating on prenatal, infant, and child nutrition. She then moved on to ShopRite in Chatham in 2013 as their in-store retail registered dietitian until 2016 when she moved onto Village Supermarket’s flagship store, the ShopRite of Greater Morristown, and now is working virtually.