Retail Dietitian Close Up: Kylie Bentley, H-E-B Grocery Co.
Allison Beadle, MS, RD, LD
Editor, RDBA Weekly
As the Regional Dietitian for H-E-B in Austin, Texas, Kylie Bentley is the in-store nutrition expert for both customers and H-E-B Partners. She is responsible for developing nutrition education materials, teaching cooking classes, promoting Partner wellness, and community outreach.
Kylie received her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from the University of Texas in Austin and completed her dietetic internship at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. In addition, she has completed specialized training as a LEAP Therapist for food sensitivities. Kylie is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Austin Dietetic Association, the Food and Culinary Professionals and Dietitians in Functional Medicine Dietetic Practice Groups.
1. Tell us a little bit about your retailer.
H-E-B Grocery Company first opened in 1905 with one store in Kerville, TX on a $60 investment. Since then, business has steadily grown through the loyalty of Texans and expanded into Mexico for a total of approximately 350 stores to date (still growing!).
2. What’s the story on your experience in retail and your position your retailer.
Like many Texans, my first job was with H-E-B as a carryout. As I progressed through school and worked various jobs, I found myself graduating with a nutrition degree and working at Central Market, our specialty format store under the H-E-B banner. At Central Market, I grew a passion for functional medicine and the culinary arts working as a Foodie and in the supplement department for 2 ½ yrs. After earning my RD and working in the clinical field, life directed me back to H-E-B for the chance of a lifetime- a pilot position as an in-store RD. The only other RD for H-E-B at the time was in corporate, primarily responsible for recipe development. For two years, I reported to the unit director at one store, and was able to use my creativity for cooking classes, in-store seminars, community outreach, etc. The experience was invaluable for learning the retail environment, store operations, building upon foundational skills in demos, quick presentations and translating science into everyday language.
Meanwhile, the VP of Partner Communications and Culture at corporate was building a robust health & wellness program for the company, which included a pilot of Regional Dietitians. We are proud to say that we now have four Regional Dietitians to cover the entire state. We work directly with a project manager and ultimately report back to the VP of Partner Communications, as she is in charge of the Health & Wellness program for the company. Our main responsibilities include in-store demos, grocery store tours, community outreach, curriculum development and teaching classes for our employee wellness program. We also represent H-E-B in monthly media segments and contribute to the nutrition content written online and in store publications.
3. What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
Learning the business and measuring success from sales versus health outcomes.
4. What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
I learned quickly to listen intently, take notes and ask for clarification. We have many acronyms and operating systems to learn, so I have taken time to sit and go through them to have a basic understanding. In addition, I have relied upon other RDs in the retail industry for advice.
5. What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
There are so many areas to impact; it can be hard to set limits.
6. Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
The Slim Down Show Down Challenge is an amazing journey that takes 25 customers and 12 partners (employees) and a buddy on a 12 week lifestyle transformation. The contestants commit to a better way of living and a healthier lifestyle through which we are privileged to guide them along the journey. The results each year are amazing. Our most recent partner winner lost 90 lbs! Besides the corporate challenge, we send out a tool kit for all of the stores to use with the partners who want to lose weight. The reported results for 2013 were staggering. Over 6500 partners completed the 8 week challenge and lost over 32,000 lbs! We couldn’t be more proud!