Retail Dietitian Close Up: Meredith Mensinger, Redner’s Warehouse Markets
Allison Beadle, MS, RD, LD
Editor, RDBA Weekly
As Redner’s Warehouse Markets Corporate Dietitian, Meredith directs the HealthCents program to encourage healthful, affordable options for Redner’s customers. Working with food industry partners, she provides nutritious food choices in weekly ad publications and provides in-store resources to help shoppers improve their waistlines, wallets, and overall wellbeing.
Prior to working in the supermarket industry, Meredith has spent her career in Clinical Dietetics. She has worked as a Clinical Dietitian, Dialysis Dietitian, and Clinical Nutrition Manager. She has taught college Nutrition Courses at both Alvernia University and Pennsylvania State Berks Campus and works as a Pediatric Dietitian at an adolescent treatment facility in Reading.
She is a member of the American Dietetic Association and is involved in dietetic practice groups that support her area of practice: Food & Culinary Professionals (FCP) and Dietitians in Business and Communications (DBC). Meredith has also served as the Nominating Chair for the Lehigh Valley Dietetic Association. She has a Bachelor’s in Nutrition from University of Pittsburgh.
Tell us a little bit about your retailer.
Redner’s Warehouse Markets is a 43 store independent retailer with stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.
What’s the story on your experience in retail and your position your retailer.
I always knew that I wanted and needed a job that allowed for independent thinking and did not have a structured routine. I have heard about “different” opportunities, but at that time many of them felt unattainable and clinical was just the way to go. One of my professors at The University of Pittsburgh, Judy Dodd, was very inspirational in encouraging us to think out of the box. One day, a colleague sent me a job posting for a supermarket. She said “this job sounds perfect for you”. Five years later, I realize it is! I am the Corporate Dietitian and report to the Vice President of Grocery Operations. I publish a bi-monthly newsletter, write content for the circular ad, merchandise healthful options in all stores and provide nutrition programs for our employees and the community.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as a dietitian working in the retail industry?
The biggest challenge is working in an organization where people have NO idea what you do and how much you know! In a clinical setting, most professionals understand our wide range of knowledge and training. The respect is there! In the retail world, it takes awhile to communicate we do more than just “put people on diets.”
What is one thing that you wish you would have known before starting your career as a retail dietitian?
The retail world was completely new to me. As dietitians, we are very methodical and science based. There are many things in the retail and marketing world that are just made up. Having a better understanding of business, marketing and public relations would have been helpful!
Has there been anything specific that has held you back? If yes, tell us about this and how you dealt with it.
The first two years, I held myself back. Although I am confident in my work, the overlap of retail and nutrition made my confidence dwindle. However, throughout the years I realize I can sit in an executive meeting and share my thoughts and ideas. I was able to give new, fresh outlooks to individuals who have been in the business for 35 years!
In a similar vein, has there been anything specific that has helped you move forward? If yes, tell us about this.
Professionalism and networking! I cannot say this enough. Time is never wasted “just talking to someone.” I have been blessed with many amazing opportunities in my career and most of them have come my way from referrals. Talk to people, be polite, and let them know what you are doing and what you would like to do!
What have you done to equip yourself with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the retail industry?
I spend many days not talking about nutrition at all. I go into the stores and warehouse and ask operational questions. The more you understand the business, the better you can do your job!
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that you are most proud of and why.
I have recently launched a branded product sampling program. I am proud of this because it has LONG been a desire at my retailer and many individuals have tried to execute in the past but couldn’t make it happen. It is officially a revenue generating program and down the line, I hope to have demonstrators in all stores that can sample better-for-you recipes for our customers.