Retail Dietitian Close Up: Beth Stark, Weis Markets
In her role as Healthy Living Coordinator with Weis Markets, Beth Stark manages the Weis Healthy Bites™ consumer nutrition education and marketing program. Through this program, she strives to make cooking at home easy and appetizing for Weis customers. She also contributes content to the Healthy Living section of the Weis Markets’ website, their It’s in the Bag Blog and social media marketing platforms. Beth also regularly conducts cooking demos, nutrition presentations, and supermarket tours in the community and at store level.
Beth has been a dietitian for over 10 years. Her professional background includes inpatient GI and oncology and outpatient medical and surgical weight management. Beth received her Bachelors of Science degree from Penn State University and completed the Aramark Metro NY dietetic internship.
Tell us a little bit about Weis Markets.
In operation since 1912, Weis Markets is a Mid-Atlantic family-owned and operated food retailer that operates 165 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and West Virginia. weismarkets.com
What's the story behind your experience in retail and your position with Weis Markets?
Just as I was starting to ask myself ‘what’s next?’ in my career path, I came across the Healthy Living Coordinator position at Weis Markets. I have been with the company now for over five years, reporting up through the pharmacy. I wear many hats in my role. Some of my responsibilities include management of and content/recipe development for the Healthy Bites nutrition education and marketing program and Healthy Heart media campaign. I also regularly contribute to Weis social media marketing platforms, participate in community outreach, and media involvement.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
When I came on board, the retail food industry was completely foreign to me and I was definitely out of my comfort zone. I also didn’t possess a natural business sense. I have been able to come into my own as a retail dietitian by asking lots of questions, having supportive mentors within my own company and in other retail dietitians, along with time and experience.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I wish I would have had more formal education and training in communications, advertising, and marketing. So many of my day-to-day responsibilities revolve around these areas and I had quite a learning curve to overcome when I first started.
Has there been anything specific that has held you back? If yes, tell us about this and how you dealt with it.
In the beginning, I would say it was my inexperience in the retail food industry that held me back because I wasn’t overly confident in myself and what I brought to the table. Now that I have gained more experience and confidence, I feel much more outgoing and comfortable voicing my ideas, opinions, and expectations.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward? If yes, tell us about this.
Stepping up to the challenge and taking on new and different responsibilities and projects has helped me progress to where I am today.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
There are vast differences in the responsibilities of retail dietitians from one retailer to another. By meeting and networking with other retail dietitians at industry and dietitian meetings and events, I have been able to better understand areas of the industry beyond what I know in my own company.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
Seeing the Healthy Bites program continue to grow, change, and positively impact the eating habits of our customers has been highly rewarding.
Since I started in 2008, we have more than doubled the number of Healthy Bites Magazines that are printed and made available for free to our customers. We now also develop all Healthy Bites featured recipes ourselves and use custom, styled food photography in the magazine. All Healthy Bites recipes are also created into two-minute recipe videos and maintained in our Recipes and Meals playlist on YouTube.