Cassandra Umile, manager of nutrition services and food production for Kenny Family ShopRites of Delaware, was named the Retail Dietitian of the Year by the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance (RDBA) at the ongoing Retail Dietitian Exchange in Chicago. The award recognizes a retail dietitian who shows leadership in utilizing business skills and industry knowledge to positively impact consumer behavior through the retail sector. WGB partnered with RDBA for the launch of a joint Retail Dietitian Exchange event.
“We congratulate Cassandra and applaud her success that has made a difference with her customers, colleagues and community,” says Phil Lempert, president and CEO of the RDBA and a WGB contributing editor. “Although Cassandra is relatively new to the industry, we’re glad RDBA helped her to become a successful leader in her organization and the industry.”
“It’s an honor to win this award,” says Umile. “The RDBA is critical to my success and it has helped me learn about sales, marketing and data analysis, while sharing programming tips with other dietitians. This career is so rewarding, and I know I will continue to grow and help others in the future.”
“The thing that impresses me most about Cassandra is her ability to try new ideas that improve the health of our customers and associates,” says Melissa Kenny, owner and director of sales and marketing for Kenny Family ShopRites. “Her ability to combine her business knowledge with her expertise on nutrition and understanding of the retail industry makes her an excellent retail dietitian.”
Two years ago, Umile started as a retail dietitian at one of Kenny Family’s ShopRite stores, and she was later named manager of nutrition services and food production for the Wilmington, Del.-based retailer. She provides nutrition education across the family’s six ShopRite stores and in the New Castle County community. She also teaches the company’s food safety class, which qualifies employees as Certified Food Safety Managers. In addition, she oversees quality assurance to make sure products and conditions meet company and FDA standards.
Umile taught herself how to write grants and was able to launch a Green Bucks Program through a grant from the Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentive (FINI), which provides Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) beneficiaries with $2 fresh fruit and vegetable vouchers for every $5 spent with SNAP benefits. More than 1,600 people participated in the Green Bucks program and those customers increased their produce purchases by 100%. Umile subsequently went to Capitol Hill with the National Grocers Association to lobby about the importance of the FINI program.
Through networking, Umile has implemented programs such as the Healthy Food Marketing Strategies initiative, which works in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware. She also teamed up with UD to implement the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s store tour grant, which trains dietetic students on giving store tours to customers to help improve their eating habits.
Founded in 2012, RDBA consists of more than 1,000 retail registered dietitians throughout North America who most often work in supermarkets. It is the first organization to offer retail business education programs for registered dietitians that help these professionals better understand the business of retail, including trends, merchandising, working with suppliers and more. In addition to online and in-person training at key events, RDBA offers opportunities through its newsletter, website and special events for the community of retailers and dietitians to share information.