Retail Dietitian Close Up: Janine Faber, Meijer
Janine Faber is a corporate dietitian and Healthy Living Advisor for Meijer stores for Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville and Lexington. She organizes and participates in community and in-store events, writes for the Meijer Healthy Living booklets, magazines and website, presents health information to a variety of audiences and provides customers with nutrition solutions via television and radio. Janine earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Dietetics from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and attended Virginia Tech’s Dietetic Internship in Falls Church, Virginia. She also completed her Masters of Education in Health Promotion at the University of Cincinnati.
Tell us a little bit about Meijer.
In 1934, Hendrik Meijer and his 14-year old son, Fred, opened the first Meijer's Grocery in Greenville, Michigan. Today, Meijer, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, operates 203 "one-stop-shop" supercenters in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Our success is driven by our core values: customers, competition, family, freshness and safety & health.
What’s the story on your experience in retail and your position with Meijer?
In 2002, I saw an opportunity in the Greater Cincinnati Dietetic Association newsletter for a dietitian for Kroger stores. This lead to my first job in the retail industry as a corporate dietitian for Kroger, based at their headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio. I joined a team of three dietitians and we answered customer questions via email, phone calls and letters. I worked for Kroger for 2 1/2 years before really feeling the itch to get out in the community and educate people in-person.
In 2005, I joined the Meijer Healthy Living team as the first Healthy Living Advisor under Shari Steinbach. I currently cover our 'Southern Region, which encompasses Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati in Ohio and Louisville and Lexington in Kentucky. I am based out of our regional office in West Chester, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. In my role, I provide media interviews, participate in community events and programs, write for our website and publications, pin on our Pinterest boards and answer customer questions through "Ask Janine" on our Meijer Healthy Living website.
Over the years, it has been exciting to see our team expand to five dietitians covering the various regions within Meijer. Our team has a mix of backgrounds and skills and a balance of knowledge and expertise.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
One of the main challenges for me was understanding retail terminology and lingo. Another challenge is catering to the different needs of multiple demographics. Where one group is very health-conscious, another group can be confused with too much nutrition information.
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
I wish I would have taken a marketing class and a PR class to get more business insight and background.
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward? If yes, tell us about this.
I believe that in the retail setting, having upper level management support is crucial to moving forward. Our VP of Grocery was our biggest cheerleader and showed other VPs what our Healthy Living team can do to benefit Meijer.
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
To gain more retail knowledge and skills, I have networked and joined various professional groups. I have networked with different people within Meijer and beyond Meijer, from other retail dietitians, to PR professionals and so on. I have also joined groups including RDBA, FCP and their Supermarket Subgroup, and attended programs and webinars focusing on the retail industry. I also have a fantastic resource and mentor in my manager, Shari Steinbach. With many years of experience in the supermarket industry, I continue to learn from Shari on a regular basis.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
One initiative that I am proud of is my collaboration with our Meijer Pharmacy. My local Clinical Services Pharmacist, Megan, and I partner together in a variety of settings including media, presentations and health fairs, to help promote Meijer's food, fitness and pharmacy. We are excited to be leading the way with this relationship in the communities that we serve.