Retail Nutritionist Close Up: Hope Danielson, Director of Health and Wellness at Niemann Foods/Country Market
How did you get your start in the retail industry?
I started with Niemann Foods/County Market almost 10 years ago as a health and wellness advisor. I have always had a passion for health and wellness and was thrilled to share my nutrition and community health background with others. At the time I was the only person developing and overseeing our health and wellness program for over 40 stores. Since then we have added a dietitian and together we make up our “Live Well Team.”
Tell us about your role at Niemann Foods.
The Live Well team wears many hats. We are responsible for educating our shoppers on healthy eating, quick and healthy meal ideas, cooking tips and overall wellbeing. We help our shoppers identify healthier options throughout the grocery store aisles; develop healthy in-store brochures; create healthy recipes and tips for ads and our Live Well blog; and we host in-store nutrition education tours so we can help our customers identify healthy products at the point of purchase.
We also feel that it’s important to reinforce our brand by taking our message outside the walls of our stores and into the communities. This includes radio interviews, TV spots and social media. We are very proactive and intentional about being involved with our communities. We work with our local schools to help educate children on the importance of a healthy lifestyle; we’ve led and participated in countless school assemblies. Childhood obesity is something we take very serious and we can reach thousands of children through school education programs and in-store field trips. We also provide lunch-n- learns, health fairs and cooking demos to a broad range of businesses, service clubs and community organizations.
In your ten years in the retail industry, what are the key changes you’ve seen?
- Food transparency-- customers are concerned now more than ever where their food comes from.
- How we communicate with our shopper--Shifting from traditional marketing avenues such as TV and newspaper ads to social media and website.
- The foods we carry--We have seen a significant rise in natural, organic, ethnic and specialty foods.
What advice would you give a nutritionist starting in the retail industry today?
Make sure your company understands your value and what you can bring to the table. It is also super important to ask questions all the time. The more you understand your retailer, the better!
Has there been anything that has held you back in your role? If yes, tell us about this and how you dealt with it.
I think the biggest thing that has held me back in my role is not having a marketing/PR background. I find that so much of what I do involves marketing and PR so I’m lucky to work with a great marketing team that can help give me insight and guidance.
Tell us about one of your programs or initiatives that are most proud of and why.
One of our most important initiatives is working to help our customers “reclaim” the dinner table by offering meal solution programs. We promote healthy and quick recipe ideas and tips through in-store displays, social media and our blog. We also have monthly, evening news spots where we are able to demonstrate the recipes as well as in-store demos. You must meet people where there at, so we find ways of getting the message out through all channels.
Hope Danielson is currently the Director of Health and Wellness for Niemann Foods/County Market. She is a Community Health Graduate from Northern Illinois University with an emphasis in nutrition. She interned as a Wellness Coordinator with Catholic Charities where she was responsible for designing and implementing wellness programs for Senior Citizens. She also has worked one-on-one with individuals as a Fitness and Nutrition Consultant and has developed youth exercise programs with the YMCA. In 2015, Hope was named one of Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery. She is very passionate when it comes to health and wellness and believes in an “all foods fit” philosophy.