By: Krystal Register, MS, RDN, LDN, Senior Director, Health & Well-being, FMI
Midwinter 2022 HW education session

Consumers, retailers, policy makers, researchers, healthcare providers and industry leaders are making the connection between food and health, and the trend has become clear – nutrition matters. However, nutrition is complicated. Households with multiple health and diet needs must work to balance taste, convenience, preference and price amidst a sea of new products, confusing labels, wrong information, limited insurance coverage, and a lack of personalized solutions and trustworthy guidance.

When food and nutrition programs are delivered by credible experts in the grocery store (in-person or online), the idea of framing the grocery store as a community destination for health and well-being comes to life. At FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference, we delivered an education session with Kroger Health leaders to share insights on successful health and well-being initiatives that drive value, trust and loyalty.

Olivia Kinney, PharmD and population health program development manager at The Kroger Co., explained how the grocery store supports an expanding healthcare ecosystem, noting the true value in connecting customers to healthcare professionals, clinics, pharmacies, registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) and food and nutrition benefits. Kinney spoke about the potential improvement in health outcomes with every trip to the grocery store and omnichannel engagement.

Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), counseling with an RDN, provided in the grocery store setting delivers personalized guidance that can truly affect shopping and eating for an entire family, with actionable goals that can lead to sustainable behavior change and improved health. Kroger’s industry leading nutrition scoring system, OptUp, is designed to simplify healthy shopping, expand choice and help customers track habits overtime with an overall basket score focus. One-on-one counseling with an RDN can help a customer build a meaningful shopping list, best utilize available tools and resources, validate the enjoyment of food, identify obstacles, monitor biometrics, and ultimately celebrate success.

Bridget Wojciak, RDN and director of nutrition at the Kroger Co., spoke about the many resources and personalized approach MNT provides to help customers manage health conditions by meet dietary needs with in-store shopping assistance or telenutrition consultation services, explaining, “there is loyalty that comes with someone helping you” at the grocery store.

The Food as Medicine concept revolves around building healthy eating patterns, providing access to nutritious and affordable foods and beverages and helping consumers prepare safe and wholesome meals. In the food retail setting, there are many opportunities for registered dietitians to lead programs that deliver on this concept that truly connects food to health. 

Wojciak expanded on the established definition to share Kroger’s belief that Food as Medicine means a “dedicated, educated, and personalized approach to eating and enjoying food so we can live healthier lives and prevent illness before it starts.”

All retailers and food companies have the opportunity to provide value by expanding health and well-being programs. We encourage FMI members to start the conversation to build programs to support employees and customers and to evaluate success