RD Close-up: Whitney Hemmer, LD, RD, Fareway Stores, Inc.
By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND
Please describe your role at Fareway.
I am one of two corporate dietitians at Fareway, based out of Boone, Iowa (near Des Moines). I maintain three weekly TV segments across the state, develop monthly 0:30 second recipe commercials, produce a quarterly magazine called CentsAble Health and provide various businesses and communities with free presentations on health and wellness.
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with your store?
I was hired in 2010 as Fareway’s first dietitian. My job has been one of evolution; I was really allowed to transform my job and responsibilities into anything. I found it most efficient to provide resources my stores could use on their own.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
Products and philosophies are always changing! I have to stay up-to-date on everything from new products to new diets to new recipes or cooking techniques.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I have always been comfortable in the kitchen, but I wish I would have known just how important cooking skills are in this position. I can’t just give a client a recommendation; I have to help him/her turn that recommendation into breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back?
No – my department is very open to new ideas, especially when it comes to health and wellness. I feel very lucky to be part of such an open-minded team.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward?
In my particular position, it’s important to be open to criticism. I’m trying to communicate to a large audience, and I need feedback about what works best and what information is best received. I like hearing pros and cons on my writing style, on-camera presence and presentation format so I can change and improve as needed.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
I attend a variety of conference each year geared specifically towards retail dietitians. I receive information on new products, how their produced and the company’s story. I also try to maintain a close relationship with our buying department, so I know about new products before they’re on the shelf.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
We are about to publish issue 30 of our CentsAble Health magazine. When I pitched the idea to Fareway, we had never done any kind of in-store newsletter or magazine and our first issue had a very fast turnaround. Since then we have expanded our page count, recipe testing, and food photography.
Bio: Whitney began her career as the first Corporate Dietitian for Fareway Stores, Inc. in 2010. Fareway is located in Iowa and the surrounding states and operates over 115 stores. Before joining Fareway, Whitney received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics and completed her internship through Iowa State University where she developed a passion for community nutrition, recipe development and cooking. Whitney offers a wide variety of nutrition-related services including weekly TV segments, community presentations, health fairs and store tours. She also creates content and recipes for Fareway’s quarterly magazine publication, CentsAble Health. Whitney believes Fareway is the ideal place for customers to start improving their health and wellness – with a wide variety of options at affordable prices.