Retail Dietitian Close Up: Allison Yoder, Hy-Vee, Inc.
Today we’re pleased to highlight Allison Yoder, MA, RD, LD. Allison is a Health and Wellness Supervisor for Hy-Vee, Inc. where she plays an integral role in the development of strategic health and wellness promotions. Allison is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and currently serves as the Meeting Chair-elect for the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In her spare time, Allison enjoys spending time with her family, hiking and card making.
1. Tell us a little bit about Hy-Vee, Inc.
Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned supermarket chain with more than 63,000 employees and 233 stores in eight states (Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota).
2. What’s the story on your experience in retail and your position with Hy-Vee?
I started my retail experience as a registered dietitian with Hy-Vee in 2005, working directly with customers and managing the HealthMarket, a natural and organic food department located in most Hy-Vee stores. While in the store, I conducted supermarket tours, cooking classes, community presentations and media promotions through television and newspaper. In 2010, my job responsibilities expanded into a new role as health and wellness supervisor. Currently, I oversee our dietitian program in the eastern territory of Hy-Vee, focusing on hiring and training new dietitians, supervising dietitian services and implementing wellness programs.
3. What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
My initial challenge when first working in the retail industry was speaking the retail “lingo.” Net profit, shrink, GPA….what did all these words mean?
A second challenge I came upon was finding ways to effectively incorporate nutrition education and health messages into sales and profit for our stores. How could I help make customers’ lives easier, healthier, and happier while still showing a return on investment to the store? This included a lot of trial and error, but I now find this to be a very rewarding aspect of my job.
4. What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
I have worked with some amazing store directors and supervisors who helped strengthen my knowledge and understanding of the grocery business as a retail employee, not just as a dietitian. Having a good understanding of what makes our company and stores successful helped me to provide more effective dietitian services.
5. What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I wish I would have developed a stronger marketing background prior to working as a retail dietitian. Having a deeper understanding of how to promote programs and market services would have made “learning on the job” a lot easier!
6. Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
I am most proud of the dietitian program Hy-Vee has worked hard to build. We have 153 dietitians offering nutrition services in over 200 stores. Each dietitian has impacted the lives of hundreds of customers through daily interaction in the aisles, helping to improve the health of communities and building customer loyalty for their stores.