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Kicking Off National Nutrition Month®

By Lindsey Getz

In conjunction with National Nutrition Month®, supermarkets are emphasizing that every forkful can make a difference.

Every year, National Nutrition Month® (NNM), a nutrition education campaign sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy), provides an exciting platform for dietitians to get consumers more engaged in the nutritional food choices they make on a daily basis. Supermarket dietitians across the country are participating in food demos, recipe sharing, and other ideas in keeping with this year’s “Put Your Best Fork Forward” theme. According to the Academy, the NNM 2017 theme is a reminder that every individual “holds the tools to make healthier food choices,” and that making small changes can make a huge difference now and into the future.

In this article, Today’s Dietitian speaks with three different supermarket chains to find out what they have planned for shoppers and associates throughout March.

Niemann Foods
At Niemann Foods in Quincy, Illinois, Hope Danielson, health and wellness advisor and Melanie Kluzek, RDN, the company’s dietitian, say their overall focus is getting more shoppers to cook meals at home on their own by providing healthful, easy recipes. Danielson says that “putting your best fork forward” is all about taking small steps to help people get healthier and they want to show that cooking at home is one of the best ways to do that.

“If we pair a recipe handout with a food sample of that recipe, we spark a lot more interest, so we’ll be doing a lot of food demos and samples,” Kluzek says. “We want people to realize that homemade food can be easy—that it doesn’t have to take all night to cook.”

One of the most popular recipes is the buffalo chicken quinoa. They’ve also sampled a chicken salad that replaces the mayonnaise with guacamole.

Danielson says the stores also will make regular announcements over the PA system to remind shoppers what NNM is all about and how easy it is to start taking small steps toward better health. The store’s weekly circular will include quick and healthful recipes and tips. And they made 30-second videos that show how easy it is to prepare healthful foods, such as how to cut up a mango.

“We really like this theme because we’re already trying to educate our consumers about the small steps they can take to reach bigger goals,” Danielson says. “They are in control of making healthful choices that can go a long way. The biggest thing is emphasizing that this is a lifestyle—not a quick fix.”

Weis Markets
Weis Markets, based in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, is approaching NNM with ideas on both the corporate and retail levels. Corporate-based dietitian Kathryn Long, RDN, LDN, says the emphasis is on the fact that “every bite, snack, and meal does make an impact on one’s overall health and progress toward reaching goals,” adding that she’s encouraging those who are looking for a way to start making changes.

She says they will be incorporating that message into several of their ongoing outreach programs in which they already participate, including a regular nutrition spot on a local radio station and periodic Facebook live updates. In both of these programs, listeners/viewers will receive easy recipe ideas and healthful tips that will help them make small, healthful lifestyle changes that could have a big impact over time.

Erin Long, MS, RDN, LDN, retail healthy living coordinator with Weis, says she feels the NNM message also will resonate well with shoppers who want to make changes but don’t know where to start. This year during NNM, she says there are tasting events planned during which customers have the opportunity to sample prepared recipes from Weis’ HealthyBites magazine. The events include an Asian “Noodle” Stir-Fry that will replace traditional noodles with carrot noodles, as well as a Cranberry-Pecan Wheat Berry Salad. “Tasting events are great opportunities to educate customers as they are shopping and encourage them to try a nutritious recipe or product,” she adds.

Big Y Foods
Carrie Taylor, RDN, LDN, lead dietitian at Big Y Foods, Inc, based in Springfield, Massachusetts, says NNM is important because it’s an opportunity for dietitians to unite, no matter where they are. With a consistent theme across all dietitians’ efforts, there’s a real possibility to make a difference in local communities.

At Big Y, the NNM theme is being discussed in the newsletter both in print and online, and even published as a secondary article in the local Springfield, Massachusetts-based newspaper The Republican. Taylor says she and the corporate team also are broadcasting a Facebook live video to discuss NNM with viewers. These efforts, coupled with some in-store food demos and sampling, including a tasting event encouraging shoppers to eat more whole grains in coordination with Whole Grain Sampling Day, will help drive home the message of NNM.

“National Nutrition Month® has always been a great opportunity for our team to educate shoppers and residents of the communities we serve on what a registered dietitian is, what kind of training we undergo, and why we are the best go-to nutrition experts,” Taylor says. “Our evidence-based recommendations translate into immediate behavior changes by way of the products purchased by shoppers that we cross paths with on any given day.”

— Lindsey Getz is a freelance writer based in Royersford, Pennsylvania.