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Coborn’s Emily Parent Named Retail Dietitian of the Year

Judy Dodd also honored with 2019 Jane Andrews Lifetime Achievement Award
RBDA Group
Photograph by WGB Staff

Emily Parent, registered dietitian at St. Cloud, Minn.-based Coborn’s Inc., has been named the 2019 Retail Dietitian of the Year by the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance (RDBA). Parent was recognized for her professional excellence and leadership in utilizing business skills and industry knowledge to positively impact consumer behavior through the retail sector at this week’s Retail Dietitian Exchange event in Chicago, which was co-hosted by Winsight Grocery Business.

“Emily has taken her role as an RD in a for-profit business to the next level while maintaining her science-based integrity in promoting better-for-you-options throughout Coborn’s,” said Phil Lempert, president and CEO of the RDBA. In addition to helping “increase store sales, communication between departments and overall employee health,” Lempert described Parent as “a shining example of how an RD works in a retail setting and is well-deserving of this award.”

Lempert and Coborns

Emily Parent, R.D. at Coborn’s, accepts her 2019 Retail Dietitian of the Year award by RDBA’s Phil Lempert. Parent was recognized for her professional excellence and leadership in utilizing business skills and industry knowledge to positively impact consumer behavior through the retail sector at this week’s Retail Dietitian Exchange. 

Photograph by WGB staff

As part of her duties, Parent creates programs for the store-level as well as the employee and community level as well. She was an integral part of developing the chef-inspired, dietitian-approved meal kits for CobornsDelivers. Parent also created and executed an eight-week wellness challenge for the more than 9,000 Coborn’s employees. She is also instrumental in creating partnerships with sponsors who support in-store initiatives such as cooking classes, Facebook Live segments, recipe cards, coupons and TV programs.

In addition to Parent’s Retail Dietitian of the Year award, RDBA also presented Judy Dodd with the first Jane Andrews Lifetime Achievement Award in Retail Dietetics. Dodd’s work in retail dates back to 1982, when she was part of the team that started a nutrition education program for low income consumers at retail. During the 1990s, she became the food and nutrition adviser for Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle. As an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Dodd introduces students to the retail dietetics career path and partners on internship and field experience opportunities for them. Dodd also is a past president of the American Dietetic Association. 

“Retail Dietetics would not be where it is today without Judy,” said Dodd’s former Giant Eagle colleague Caroline West Passerrello. “She is a true trailblazer and was executing programs in the supermarket years before they were popular or trendy—the same programs people think are ‘new’ now.”

Dodd’s award is named for Jane Andrews, who started at Wegman’s nearly 30 years ago as one of the first retail dietitians in the industry.

RDBA also presented Vestcom’s Monica Amburn, senior director of health and wellness for Vestcom’s healthyAisles, with an award of excellence for the organization’s ongoing commitment to and support of retail dietitians. A verified nutritional claims database, healthyAisles, which is now used in more than 15,000 stores nationwide, enables retailers to highlight product attributes—from low sodium to organic—via customized shelf tags and other in-store and digital media.

Founded in 2012, RDBA is the professional group to the more than 800 retail registered dietitians throughout the U.S. and Canada that most often work for or consult to supermarket chains helping customers and employees with food, culinary, and nutrition issues. The organization’s mission is to foster the continuing business education and career development of current and future retail dietitians.

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