How a 29-year-old went from studying culinary arts to prescribing food as medicine at America’s largest supermarket chain

Allison Baker

Allison Baker, 29, is the director of nutrition at Kroger, where she oversees a team of dieticians and looks at how the biggest US grocery chain can change people’s eating habits to help them get healthier.
As part of her role heading up nutrition, Baker’s been working to find ways to use the expertise of Kroger’s dieticians.
Here’s how she moved into the role, which earned her a spot on Business Insider’s list of 30 leaders under 40 transforming the future of healthcare.
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Allison Baker, 29, was the kid in high school who hosted dinner parties for her friends at her parents’ house.

“I love cooking for people and learning new things,” Baker said.

So she’d try out new recipes on her friends, which taught her a lot about cooking.

When it came time to pick a path after high school graduation, she decided to pursue a career at a culinary institute that had an emphasis on food innovation via the University of Cincinnati. Then, while studying nutrition at school, she decided to shift her focus to the field of dietetics, instead.

“I was hooked,” Baker said. She thought, “this is the perfect intersection between food and science and helping people and making a difference.”

From hospitals to Kroger

She started working at hospitals during an internship, working with pediatrics and in the intensive care unit. After graduating she went on to pursue her master’s in nutritional science, also at the University of Cincinnati.

It was then that Baker came across her first dietician who worked in retail, at Cincinnati-based Kroger. Kroger is the biggest grocery chain in the US and operates more than 2,700 supermarkets and 2,270 pharmacies.

After getting her master’s, she decided to join Kroger as well as a dietician working in corporate and consumer affairs, though it was an adjustment from what she’d learned in school.

“It was really a big learning curve,” Baker said. “What we do in retail is very different from how we’re trained to be in the hospital.” For instance, Baker had to learn about labeling requirements, FDA regulations around food, and brands Kroger sold.

Putting ‘food at the center of healthcare’

Baker was in that role for a few years before she started working with Kroger Health president Colleen Lindholz. About three years ago, Lindholz started running Kroger’s Little Clinic business, which operates 215 retail health clinics. At that time, she decided to organizationally pull in dieticians and nutrition into the health business under her purview. Lindholz now oversees the clinics and the pharmacy business for Kroger.

“They had started working on a strategy that had food at the center of healthcare,” Baker said. Baker came along and was promoted to initially oversee teams of dieticians across the organization.

Read more: America’s largest supermarket chain is betting it can keep you healthy by tracking your groceries and prescriptions

Her job at first had been to help coordinate the dieticians working across the organization. There are a lot …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Science

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