Episode 265: Taylor Newman

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In a world where healthcare costs continue to rise and chronic diseases are on the rise, there’s a growing realization that what we eat plays a significant role in our overall health. Recognizing this fact, Kroger, one of the largest supermarket chains in the United States, has taken a bold step towards transforming the way we think about food and its impact on our well-being. With Taylor Newman, Director of Nutrition, leading the charge, Kroger is spearheading a movement to promote “Food as Medicine” and empower individuals to make healthier choices for a better quality of life. 

In this episode with Taylor, we will discuss her role in the Food as Medicine movement at Kroger,  Kroger’s complementary efforts and role in the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, and more!



Lori Taylor (00:01.93)

Hello everybody and welcome back. This is the Produce Moms podcast and we are continuing on with our food as medicine mini series. Big thank you to the team at Crunch Pack for helping to support this mini series. We really appreciate their support. And of course to my cohost for this series, Tony Freytag, he’s back in the studio folks. We’re gonna hear from Tony again. And today’s guest, so excited about today’s guest. We have Taylor Newman.


She is the director of nutrition at Kroger. Taylor’s become a colleague friend of mine over the last couple years of her being at the helm of all things nutrition at Kroger. But gosh, she is just an absolute expert in the development and implementation of community-based nutrition interventions to address diet-related disease. Taylor is resourced really throughout the entire industry all across the nation.


Tony Freytag (00:45.966)

Thanks for watching!


Lori Taylor (00:59.954)

as a thought leader in the grocery retail space, and of course for her passion, her passion for advancing healthy food access, nutrition security, and produce prescription programs, all things that fall under the Food is Medicine umbrella. And Taylor Newman, she is here with us today. Taylor, please say hi, we’re so glad you’re here.


Taylor Newman (01:19.974)

Hello, hello. Thank you so much for having me, Lori. I’m excited to be here.


Lori Taylor (01:24.442)

I’m so excited to have you. And I think you’re the perfect person to bring onto this show. I must say, Taylor, you know this, but I learned about food as medicine because of Kroger Health. You know, and this, I really believe that, especially pre-pandemic, Kroger was committed at a unique level to the food as medicine movement, to the point where I would say they were…


the pioneers in the space as it relates to like, what does a retailer’s implementation of food as medicine look like? Of course now, as we’ve discussed in our previous episodes, like we all discussed when we were together in Chicago at the Food as Medicine Summit, there’s a lot of stakeholders and most of the grocery retailers are participating in some way, shape or form. But I do think it’s important to set the tone that Kroger’s been doing this for several years.


putting together various programs, whether it’s Opt Up or other Kroger Health Initiatives. And I’m sure Taylor will speak more in depth about those, but gosh, this is, Taylor represents the retailer who taught me the most about food as medicine and what it looks like at the grocery retail space. So excited about today’s conversation. So let’s get things started, Taylor. Tell us about your education, your work. You got a lot of initials after your last name. So.


Taylor Newman (02:46.034)

Yeah, well, I really appreciate you saying that, Laurie, about Kruger being a thought leader in the space. And before I even introduce myself, I would like to give all the credit to Colleen Lynn Holtz, our president at Kruger Health, who, if anyone has ever heard her speak, she is so inspirational. She’s such a joy to work for. And she’s a pharmacist by background. And it was in, I think, 2008 that she started talking about food as medicine. So


Lori Taylor (02:46.594)

I’m sorry.


Oh my gosh. Yes.


Taylor Newman (03:13.134)

over a decade ago, brought on dietitians for Kroger and really has built the program to what it is today. And now I get to be a part of it. So I came to Kroger two years ago. I came from a background in academia where I was looking at produce prescription programs across the country, how they were being built and how they were being measured and kind of understanding the blueprint of these programs that really just started budding up a couple years ago.


really at its core, food is medicine, and came to Kroger because, not because I thought when I graduated I wanted to work at a grocery retailer, I had no idea that Kroger was even involved in the space like they were. But once I met with their teams and I learned that they cared about research and policy and advocacy and all these things that I really cared about, I knew I had to come here. So, been here for two years and came into the director role just last year, the week before.


Lori Taylor (04:05.056)

I love that.


Taylor Newman (04:10.138)

the White House conference. It really hit the ground running. Ha ha.


Lori Taylor (04:14.138)

Yes, exactly, exactly. So let’s talk a little bit about your background, your education background, because you are a dietician. And then through your research, you’re also a PhD. So help folks understand the point of view and the education and professionalism that you’re bringing as we continue the conversation today with your perspective and Kroger’s perspective on food as medicine.


Tony Freytag (04:14.298)

Trial by fire.


Taylor Newman (04:15.878)

Yes, it’s true.


Taylor Newman (04:28.347)



Taylor Newman (04:44.278)

Yeah, so I just stayed in school for a really long time. The goal was to become a dietitian and the PhD was kind of on accident, but I think it’s really helpful in my role now because a lot of the skills that I got conducting that research, especially I was doing national level research, I’m now tapping into at Kroger, which is a scaled grocery store all across the country. So as I’m thinking about how to build programs for Kroger.


I’m tapping into that grassroots level program building that I was doing in grad school. And then from the lens of an RD, I think it is invaluable. A dietitian can work anywhere. I’m a firm believer that there are so many non-traditional roles. We don’t just work in hospitals or community settings, which is where I think a lot of people think they’ll find dietitians. So the fact that I get to use my expertise as a dietitian in the retail environment, right? Where…


Lori Taylor (05:35.554)

Sure. Yeah.


Taylor Newman (05:41.51)

consumers are making decisions is something really special and that Kroger can uniquely offer.


Lori Taylor (05:47.83)

So let’s talk about that. I know later in the conversation, we’re gonna maybe dive into this a little bit more, but I kind of feel like the elephant in the room when it comes to talking about RDs in the retail settings is you have the most nutritious food available as well as just junk food available in the same setting. How is your role, or is your role as the nutrition director at Kroger, I mean, is that a conflict?


with the less nutritious food or the junk food that is also part of Kroger’s ability to be in business.


Taylor Newman (06:26.158)

Yeah, it’s a great question. And truthfully, it doesn’t. And that is because of my food philosophy as a dietician and then Kroger’s food philosophy as a whole with anything we do related to food as medicine, and that is all foods fit. So I think what’s really special about food is that it’s more than nutrients. It’s your family, it’s what you had at Thanksgiving as a kid, your grandma’s recipe.


Lori Taylor (06:48.865)



Taylor Newman (06:52.162)

It’s joy. And I think that a lot of different kinds of foods can fit into a healthful diet in moderation, obviously. And then my goal as director is to try and make those healthy options really easy and accessible and affordable for customers when they choose to choose those healthier choices.


Lori Taylor (06:53.81)

It is.


Of course.


Lori Taylor (07:11.706)

I love to hear that. You know, I was on stage, this was before you were at Kroger, I was on stage at one of the wellness festivals that Kroger hosts on an annual basis. It was at one of the very first ones in Cincinnati where it was still inside the Duke Energy Center. And I was on stage with Tony Horton and Joy Bauer. And these are people who, you know, do they ever.


eat junk food. I don’t think so. I don’t know. But they we had to in real time, pull up our opt up score on our phone. And when I pulled mine up, my son’s birthday was like the week before. So I had bought like, you know, all the little chips for the kids and a birthday cake and cupcakes and ice cream and all this so my opt up score had plummeted.


Taylor Newman (07:46.624)

I’m sorry.


Lori Taylor (07:59.674)

And I said something pretty similar to there’s like, look, food is culture. Like we celebrate birthdays with birthday cake and I am not afraid to say that that’s part of my life. You know, so I love that you, I love that philosophy. I think it’s heartwarming. I think it’s relatable. And most importantly, I think it helps mitigate the guilt that so many of these other food strategy, you know, as it relates to food is medicine that you can immediately like make people feel shame or guilt with how they’re living their daily lives.


Taylor Newman (08:03.845)





Taylor Newman (08:28.534)

Yeah, and even from a behavior change point of view, I think it’s also realistic. It’s not sustainable to cut out anything that’s deemed unhealthy. Like those are naturally a part of how people integrate in the world. So you have to make room for them, for someone to be able to build on healthy habits. Otherwise, I mean, it’s too overwhelming to just stick to a certain type of food forever.


Lori Taylor (08:33.63)





Lori Taylor (08:46.729)



Lori Taylor (08:53.31)

Yeah. Okay, so right before you, like right when you were starting your role at Kroger, we were together in DC at the listening event and some of the round table discussions that you hosted in DC to support the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. Of course, Rodney, from your, you know, your CEO was there, Rodney McMullen.


And all the, you know, Colleen addressed all of the folks that were at the listening event and round table discussions. So, so many amazing people from Kroger that day were in DC. Let’s help set kind of a timeline of what happened from that point in the fall of last year to where we are today. How has Kroger continued to have a seat at the table?


as it relates to the Food is Medicine movement. And let’s help folks piece together the timeline here. So the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health was September of 2023. Where are we at today?


Taylor Newman (09:54.79)

Yeah, so I would even take it back before the White House conference. Obviously, you know,


Lori Taylor (10:00.106)

Oh my gosh, I’m sorry, I have to say that again, because it would have been September 2022, right? Oh my gosh, okay, hang on, here we go. All right. Okay, so the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health took place in September of 2022. Taylor, where are we at today? How does Kroger still have a seat at the table? How are you still just leading the way as it relates to food as medicine?


Taylor Newman (10:05.142)

22 yes, you’re right


Tony Freytag (10:05.87)



Taylor Newman (10:27.59)

Yeah, so I would take it back before the White House Conference even, you know, obviously Colleen has been leading Kroger Health since early or right before 2010 to develop food as medicine at Kroger. And since then, we’ve been building programs, building strategies to support health for our customers.


And the White House Conference was kind of a catalyst for a lot of prior work. I know not just for Kroger, but for a lot of different organizations out there who have been doing this for years. And that conference really pushed momentum. So since last September, things have been moving so rapidly, as you know, as you’ve seen.


And Kroger has definitely been part of the conversation. So yes, we were lucky enough to have Rodney McMullen, our CEO, present at the actual conference in DC, which was very cool to have representation from a retailer there among everyone else. And then our Kroger Health team was in DC celebrating and having these really thoughtful conversations with partners in the industry to bridge some gaps and develop collaborations.


Lori Taylor (11:24.468)



Taylor Newman (11:40.242)

Since then, Kroger has also announced our White House Conference commitments. So, you know, the White House put out their strategic roadmap, getting us to reduce diet-related disease by 2030, and they called on the private industry to make commitments to do the same, because they can’t do it alone, nor can we. And so one of the biggest commitments that Kroger put forward was to partner with American Heart Association and the Rockefeller Foundation to…


Lori Taylor (11:56.47)



Taylor Newman (12:08.138)

mobilized $250 million to support food as medicine research. We had a couple of other really awesome commitments that we put out there, but I think this one is really exciting to me, especially with my background in research, because we’re calling it the no excuses research in that whatever data gaps are out there, regarding food as medicine, regarding their full implementation, scalability, sustainability,


Lori Taylor (12:12.662)





Taylor Newman (12:35.61)

We’re trying to identify what those gaps are and fill the gaps, leverage this call to action, these resources to fill those gaps so that in the future, food as medicine interventions will be reimbursed by health plans, by government programs, by industry, you name it, and support access to healthful food down the line. So since then, we’ve really been building upon these commitments and then continuing all the wonderful work that we were doing prior to the conference.


Lori Taylor (13:03.306)

I love that. So let’s also, as we’re talking about timelines and from then to now, any data that you can share on chronic disease statistics in the United States, and then taking a step further, any demographic data to help listeners identify the most at-risk or marginalized populations as it relates to what we’re trying to turn around with this Food is Medicine initiative and movement.


Taylor Newman (13:32.338)

Yeah, there are so many stats out there, which are kind of paint a bleak picture, don’t they? Around $50 billion in health care expenditures for heart health related disease and six in 10 Americans living with at least one chronic disease. I think the one that really drives it home for me is suboptimal nutrition is now the number one leading risk factor for deaths worldwide. So it has now surpassed smoking.


Lori Taylor (13:35.297)





Lori Taylor (14:00.83)



Taylor Newman (14:03.262)

And that to me is wild because it’s preventable to some extent. You know, there are certain characteristics that require a lot of dismantling. It’s not just handing people food, but there are elements in which efforts like what we’re talking about today in the food is mess and movement that can address those gaps and improve those statistics down the line.


Lori Taylor (14:25.058)

Sure. Well, thank you for that. And I know that, you know, hopefully we’ll have a chance. I’m gonna pass the mic here to Tony, but I’m gonna build upon what you just said with that, because I think also one of your key passions that we gathered when we were putting together this show for you is the concept of nutrition security, which is far different than food security. So I’m gonna, when I come back, I’m gonna, we’re gonna dive into that, but.


Tony Freytag (14:33.194)

Thank you very much.


Taylor Newman (14:48.55)



Lori Taylor (14:54.43)

In the meantime, it’s time to bring Tony on. I know he’s got some questions for you. So Tony, I’m gonna pass the mic to you.


Tony Freytag (15:01.886)

Well, I will try to catch it and do the right thing. Taylor, it’s so good to see you again. It’s just been about a month or so that we were together in Chicago in a fascinating conference, overwhelming, mind blowing, all those things. You know, and at times I feel that I’m a little late to the party. You talk about yourself being involved as food is medicine.


Lori Taylor (15:03.746)

Ha ha ha!


Taylor Newman (15:07.334)



Tony Freytag (15:31.026)

You talk about Colleen, you talk about Kroger’s commitment, and yet in this last year, in the last 15, maybe 18 months, I’ve seen the food as medicine take off with this new momentum. What do you attribute that to? The light bulb went on, and so now we’re all sort of racing. The window is open. Let’s go through the window.


So, but what do you attribute that to that caused that impetus to spark everything?


Taylor Newman (16:07.738)

It’s a great question, because you’re right. It really has sped up since the conference. And to me, I think that was the catalyst, the conference itself, all of the buildup leading to it. And then everything, I was worried we would get to the conference, we’d put all this resource into putting together a roadmap, and then it would kind of lose momentum and the work would not continue beyond the conference. And luckily it has continued. But I think…


Lori Taylor (16:17.889)



Taylor Newman (16:35.286)

what it took for us to get there because, you know, this is the first one in 50 years, and we have been having these known issues around food insecurity and health-related disease for a while now. So why 2022? Why did we have a conference then? And I think it took stakeholders who really cared, who pushed for it. And I think it took some leaders in Congress. I know Senator


Taylor Newman (17:04.73)

bunch of people who cared to finally push to make sure that it happened. And then it did, and now we’re all in this wonderful position to continue that momentum.


Lori Taylor (17:13.82)



Tony Freytag (17:14.19)

It’s so exciting. I mean, who are there certain industries that are sort of leading the movement? You as a retailer can suggest, you as a nutritionist can suggest or drive, but ultimately there has to be something, an industry leader with products, willing to put the products in, that is gonna make the difference in this category.


And who, you know, is there a certain industry that you think that is leading some of this?


Taylor Newman (17:48.87)

There are so many folks in this industry now. It’s hard to pinpoint a single leader. I’ll say that Tufts University has done a wonderful job spearheading a lot of the efforts they pushed for the White House Conference, along with many others. But I think in the industry, we look to them to be that voice, especially for policymakers coming from an academic institution. I think that really brings value and is heard by policymakers. But there are so many other


Lori Taylor (17:51.298)

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha


Taylor Newman (18:18.71)

stakeholders that are equally important. There are CPGs, there are retailers, there are providers, there are CBOs on the front lines serving communities. It’s, and it will take every single one of us to accomplish the road map that the White House has put out for 2030.


Tony Freytag (18:37.694)

It seems almost, I don’t want to say unusual because nothing is unusual today given the last few years. But there’s been such a convergence of whether it’s the retailers, whether it’s the manufacturers, whether it’s the dieticians, the governmental policy that just seemed to all come together at once in this great, I use the term convergence again. I mean, are you seeing this? I mean, is that something you’re feeling throughout Kroger?


And I shouldn’t put this as Kroger, but do you feel there are roadblocks within the retail world? Let’s take it out of Kroger because I don’t want to get you in trouble. And, uh, and that where the roadblocks are, what are the stumbling blocks that we need to move?


Taylor Newman (19:22.38)



Gosh, how to limit. I think there’s a lot of wonderful work that’s being done, but obviously we’re only limited to the capacity that our teams have. So whether it’s Kroger, whether it’s any, a CBO, a CPG, the health and wellness side of businesses, or even from a CBO standpoint, just generally they tend to be a little bit smaller or smaller resourced. These teams can be small.


And they are mighty and fierce and wearing many hats and movers and shakers, but you’re only as fast as your teams can commit resources. So I think generally teams maybe haven’t kept up with the momentum of food as medicine. So we’re all trying to do these really big, wonderful things, um, with smaller teams. And then I think the business lens, this is what I talked about in Chicago around food is at the food is mess and summit was, um, making the case for.


Tony Freytag (20:03.182)

so true.


Lori Taylor (20:04.745)



Taylor Newman (20:23.078)

the business case of food is medicine. To have that justification within any company, you’re gonna have to show what the value is to our customers, our patients, and get buy-in across the industry.


Lori Taylor (20:25.619)



Tony Freytag (20:38.478)

But there does seem to be that buy-in. I don’t see a lot of negatives or people talking negatively about it. We had a recent situation where our US representative, Dr. Schreier from Washington, from here in Seattle, happened to be in Seattle today, was over visiting our facility and we started talking about food as medicine. And it was almost refreshing to her as a representative.


that this didn’t fall into the General Bailey Wicke, whether we’re talking about the Farm Bill, labor, immigration. And so it was almost like something she could jump on, and I’m not speaking for her, but that she could really adopt. And I’ve seen that in a number of the representatives that we’ve talked to. So it’s truly exciting. And I’m so excited to be part of it and of course have people like you that are leading the charge.


Taylor Newman (21:36.218)

Yeah, nutrition is a bipartisan issue. Everyone loves food, which is really exciting to be able to do.


Lori Taylor (21:41.182)

Yeah. It’s even better than bipartisan, it’s nonpartisan. You know, it’s, you know, yeah, definitely. And I think it kind of, I think that it comes back to some of our remarks at the top of the show, Taylor. It’s, you know, food is culture. And when you’re looking at it from a policy point of view, you know, food security is national security. And when you’re looking at it from a public health point of view, that’s when we can really dive into, you know, nutrition security, which is,


Tony Freytag (21:41.845)



That’s the word.


Taylor Newman (21:46.073)

It’s long. Yeah.


Lori Taylor (22:10.09)

different than food security. So let’s talk about some of those things. I mean, recently on the Kroger Health website, blog that you authored was published in it, and it linked to the definition of food as medicine from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. As a registered dietitian, that’s kind of like your mothership, so to say. They’re the licensing arm for dietitians. So the Academy’s definition for the food as medicine philosophy,


Taylor Newman (22:31.206)

Thank you.


Lori Taylor (22:38.474)

has four focus areas. So Taylor, are you in a position, you wanna break those down for our listeners? We’ve got, I can read them off and then you can kind of elaborate on them and then help people understand how Kroger in fact has, you know, a different but complimentary definition. All right, so there’s four, the four focus areas that the Academy has is one, food as preventative medicine to encourage health and wellbeing.


So anything you want to elaborate on that?


Taylor Newman (23:09.39)

Yeah, I think this piece of the Academy’s definition hits on that preventive piece of how food, what you eat today can impact your health down the line. It can prevent illness. And that is a very powerful aspect of food and food is medicine. So that’s what that piece of the definition is getting at.


Lori Taylor (23:15.263)



I love that. All right, so the second one, and there’s a great graphic on the website and through the blog that Taylor authored. So we’ll link that in the show notes for everyone. But the second focus area is food as medicine in disease management and treatment.


Taylor Newman (23:46.01)

Yeah, so this piece gets at your past prevention, you know, unfortunately, maybe someone does have a health condition for whatever reason, and it’s diet related. Um, food can help manage a condition that someone already has. And I think a key facet of that is, uh, care from a registered dietitian. So we deliver medical nutrition therapy, which is an evidence-based therapy that is geared towards exactly that managing a chronic condition and supporting health outcomes.


Lori Taylor (23:56.128)



I love it. Food as medicine to improve nutrition security. So this is the third, and this also kind of comes back to one of your passion points. So tell us a little bit more about what this means.


Taylor Newman (24:29.906)

So nutrition security has been quite the buzzword in I’d say the past year, where we’ve really shifted from this lens of food security, which is enough access to food, to nutrition security, which is enough access to healthful food that will support your health. And I think we’ve shifted because of this, these high rates of chronic disease and things like the White House Conference, recognizing what a big issue this is. So the shift here is,


Lori Taylor (24:35.219)





Lori Taylor (24:46.251)



Lori Taylor (24:57.687)



Taylor Newman (24:59.75)

providing access to those healthful foods to support.


Lori Taylor (25:04.51)

I love that. All right, and then food is medicine to promote food safety. This one kind of blew me away. Help me break this down for me, because my background, Taylor, is supply chain, where food safety is the Bible, because we have to make sure that everything, nothing is, no cold chain is broken, all the SQF regulations are met. Tony obviously has the same point of view as it relates to…


Taylor Newman (25:11.259)





Lori Taylor (25:30.91)

You know, the work that he’s done at CrunchPak, Traceability, all of those things are part of the food safety. And I’ve never, up until now, I’ve never really thought of food as medicine, as a means to promote food safety. So not only educate our listeners, help me figure this out.


Taylor Newman (25:45.121)



This is a little bit out of the typical definition, but if you think of it, food is a mess and at its core is the intersection between food and health, right? And food safety is meant, it’s in place to protect our health from foodborne illness. So you can think of something as like washing your hands, preventing cross-contamination with raw meat when you’re cooking. All of that is gonna support, protect your health by making sure that you’re not at risk.


Lori Taylor (25:58.259)





Lori Taylor (26:18.21)

Thank you, that does make sense now that you say it. All right, so how does this compare to your philosophies of food as medicine at Kroger? I’m sure like most of the folks that we’ve had on this show, food is medicine, big umbrella term. And there’s all the different stakeholders kind of have a different approach or a seat at the table that’s bringing a resource that maybe another stakeholder can’t bring. So help us understand, this is…


Taylor Newman (26:21.147)





Lori Taylor (26:46.346)

with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, how they define it, how’s that differ or complement how Kroger defines?


Taylor Newman (26:55.254)

So at Crocker, we do have our own definition. And as you mentioned, there are many definitions out there. And to me, I care less about the difference in definitions. I’m biased and I love ours, which I’ll share in a second. But I care less about the definitions and more about the end outcome. So if we’re all working towards a similar goal of improving access to health care and to healthy food, I am not a stickler for what it.


Lori Taylor (27:01.141)



Ha ha ha!


Lori Taylor (27:15.842)



Taylor Newman (27:24.762)

the movement is called or what the definition is. But at Kroger, food as medicine is a dedicated, educated and personalized approach to eating and enjoying food so we can live healthier lives and prevent illness before it starts. So the piece I really love about that is again, that enjoyment piece and then tying what you’re eating today to that prevention of illness down the line.


Lori Taylor (27:43.795)



Yes, that’s when I smiled when you said eating and enjoying food. It’s like the happy like footnote, you know, bring and I love that. What a great definition. So we’ll have to get that also in the show notes for people. That’s, that’s wonderful. Very thoughtful. And certainly, um, that spirit comes alive in your remarks today. So, all right. I know Tony’s got another question for you. So Tony, you’re up.


Taylor Newman (27:54.035)



Tony Freytag (27:54.091)

So if we don’t, then…


Well, yeah, when we talk about enjoyment, I mean, food is the ultimate enjoyment. I mean, this is what we, when we’re born, the first thing we have to have is nutrition, and that’s embedded in us. And so if we don’t enjoy it, then we’re not going to do it, period. I mean, it may be good for you. It may be the best thing in the whole world, but if there’s not flavor, if there’s not some kind of enjoyment for us.


a person, then you’re right. It’s not going to work. And I think we’re so lucky today to have so many different food choices that are, let’s say, on the more healthier side. And that’s a pretty broad term. But it is so important that we put things that people can enjoy. We can all do things that we don’t enjoy. And we have to at times. But this is so important. And I applaud Kroger and you.


for making that such a part of your goal, of your momentum. So, way to go.


Taylor Newman (29:21.714)



Lori Taylor (29:24.994)

Great. Well, I know Tony and I both want to know, we got to talk about medicine versus food. So Tony, you want to take this one on?


Taylor Newman (29:29.531)



Tony Freytag (29:33.61)

Yeah, I mean, this, because this whole thing has gone food as medicine or food, and then, you know, food is medicine. And so, I mean, if you look back into times of our, let’s say our great grandparents, food was the healer, food, the right food at a time that you, a child or an adult was ill.


That was the treatment. And so it’s almost like we sort of went off in one direction so far that now we’re having to bring the ship back to sort of some kind of a center. And the challenge is gonna be succeeding in that. I think one of the things that I’ve seen, and I don’t wanna pontificate, but, and I know Kroger has been very big on that, so hats off, is many of the, in our world, the produce world.


people are now produce manufacturers and value added folks are really looking at the way they market and the way that they package in such a way that it’s almost like competition to the center store. Because center store, I mean, you take some of those brands that are monumentally big. And so it’s exciting that the retailers are accepting this. And again, because we do a lot of things with Kroger. And so it’s exciting that


We are bringing food to the perimeter, one of the most important parts of the store, and it is good for us. And whether we call it medicine or healthy, or gee, just good for you, and it gets us to eat more fruits and vegetables in our category, that is a great thing. And hats off. I mean, do you feel that that’s gonna continue? Is that something that you see as a wave of people recognizing that, okay.


We’ve got to make this palatable both visually as well as, again, we go back to enjoyment.


Taylor Newman (31:38.194)

Absolutely. I think that not only is there momentum in the industry, which is, you know, we go to these conferences, we have conversations with a lot of the same organizations that have been doing this work for a while, but there’s movement on the consumer side as well, which is going to drive a lot of those decisions from people like retailers. Our customers are looking for healthier options and they’re looking for them to be simple and they’re looking for them to be convenient. So something that is


pre-cut up, it’s super convenient with Crunchback. Yes, it’s kind of amazing. When I was seeing patients, when I first started with Kroger, the number one thing that I would talk to my patients about was it would be typically a mom or someone who was preparing the meals. They were just looking for something quick and easy and convenient that was healthy for them and their family. That’s what they needed.


Tony Freytag (32:08.619)



We like that.


Lori Taylor (32:12.81)



Taylor Newman (32:34.438)

They needed some really easy options because they didn’t have time to prepare meals or even to think through what a meal plan could look like. And so I think that says a lot of what people are looking for and that they are coming to someone like Kroger to deliver on. So the more that our different CPGs and vendors can provide those really convenient options, the more we can meet those consumer needs.


Tony Freytag (33:00.574)

It makes total sense. And, you know, one of the things that you said a little bit while ago, you were talking about Colleen and that she is a pharmacist by trade, correct, or by education. And one of the questions that we had thrown back and forth is, okay, Kroger as a company sells everything. You have your pharmacy department, you have over the counter, you have all kinds of things that in some ways may be competing.


Taylor Newman (33:09.906)

Mm-hmm. Yep.


Tony Freytag (33:30.522)

with the food as medicine category. Are you feeling that? I mean, do you, is food as medicine perceived as a, not a negative, but as a competitor to some of the areas, other areas of the shore, such as the pharmacy?


Taylor Newman (33:48.11)

Yeah. You know, it’s interesting that you ask if it’s a, if Food is Medicine is a competitor to other parts of our business, because the way that we see it is Food is Medicine makes us competitive. It is something that differentiates Kroger from other retailers, other services, other healthcare providers that are out there.


Colleen will actually be the first to tell you that she wants to fill more prescriptions with food than with medications. And again, that’s coming from a pharmacist. So she leads us in that direction all the time.


Tony Freytag (34:24.034)

That’s exciting. Tell us more about your Opt Up program, your Opt Up. You were talking about it briefly earlier, or Lori was. And yes, we’ve all been there. We would buy the chocolate chip cookies and the brownies. And then we buy diet coke because we don’t want our kids to have a lot of sugar. And then of course, there’s a bunch of caffeine in that and they’re bouncing off the walls. But anyway, tell us more about Opt Up.


Lori Taylor (34:40.233)

Ha ha ha.


Taylor Newman (34:52.022)

Yeah, so we touched on Opt Up earlier. It is our nutrition rating system at Kroger, so it used to be a standalone app, and it has since been integrated into the full Kroger experience. So when you go online to Kroger.com or use the Kroger app to shop, you can use Opt Up. It’s a digital tool that was built to make it really easy for our customers to find helpful options, which again is my whole goal. And we’ve…


trained an algorithm to think like a dietician. So it takes into account all of the different attributes that would increase a score. So there’s healthful attributes like fiber and then the nutrients that you wanna consume in moderation. So things like sodium and added sugar and it balances those to create a very simple single score and scale of one to 100 but the higher the rating, the healthier the product. So if I’m looking for a certain bread, I can look at the bread that I usually buy, check the opt up score.


see that, oh, it’s actually not that helpful. It’s maybe like a 50. But then we have right below it healthy suggestions that are very similar to what you originally looked up. So maybe it’s very similar. I was looking for bread, so it’s gonna suggest bread. It’s called the BetterFew Carousel. But it’s gonna be at least three points higher in its Opt-up nutrition rating. So it’s small nudges towards healthy options. And that’s how Opt-up can help our customers.


Lori Taylor (36:15.8)



Tony Freytag (36:18.418)

Exciting, exciting. One of the things that I discovered over the last year or so, and I’m working with a group to try to make some changes, but today there’s minimal or almost no nutritional training for doctors. And one of the things that was told to me is that there’s not one single question on the med boards about nutrition.


And so in working with this group, I said, okay, I want a question on there. And they told me it could take 20 years and I asked them to speed it up a bit for my sake at least, but we all need it. I mean, do you have thoughts on this that for a role as the artist to have more, more of a role, more appreciation in this whole process?


Lori Taylor (36:58.434)

Thank you.


Taylor Newman (37:12.942)

Yeah, you know, until I would say very recently, this question always got me so defensive because I am a dietitian and I’m very protective of my profession and our expertise because, yeah, we’re the nation’s foremost expert in nutrition and we go through all this education and training and then the focus always was, well, we should train doctors to just dabble in essentially what our whole profession was based off of.


Tony Freytag (37:22.999)

As you should be.


Taylor Newman (37:39.474)

I would get kind of frustrated that the focus would be on that instead of just referring to dieticians. And recently, I think I’ve had a change in mindset in which I know that it can be difficult to find a dietician. It can be difficult to find a dietician who looks like you. We are 70% white females. And so there are a lot of gaps when we’re referring to our profession. And doctors, when they have those patients in the…


Lori Taylor (37:52.833)



Taylor Newman (38:05.926)

their rooms, they have a limited amount of time, which limits what they can share, but they do have a captive audience and they can share some basic information that might make a difference in that patient’s life. I think what my hope is moving forward is that there is some more nutrition education in medical education for physicians and increased awareness that dietitians exist and should that very short time that they have with their patient.


Lori Taylor (38:30.756)



Tony Freytag (38:31.819)



Taylor Newman (38:34.33)

not be sufficient to enact the behavior change that they need to address their chronic condition, refer. Refer to a dietitian and then simultaneously look to health plans and entities like CMS to expand coverage of those services so that it’s affordable because I think that’s also really key.


Tony Freytag (38:53.59)

No, that’s very, very impressive. My mom worked in a hospital for many years as is working with the dieticians to get as nutritional food as possible that also tasted good. So you’re speaking from my heart on that. So way to go.


Taylor Newman (39:09.746)

Thank you.


Lori Taylor (39:12.758)

I love that. Taylor, you bring up a good point and one that I think we should kind of use as one of our last comments here within the today show. How do Kroger shoppers engage with the dietitian if they need that service? I mean, I know that through Kroger Health, there’s access to pharmacy, there’s access through the little clinic to patient care.


Tony Freytag (39:28.728)

Very good.


Lori Taylor (39:37.386)

How does a Kroger shopper or even a non-Kroger shopper engage with a Kroger dietitian?


Taylor Newman (39:42.938)

Yeah. So I mean, excellent point. You don’t have to be a Kroger shopper to engage with one of our dietitians. So we have a team of dietitians at Kroger and their whole role is patient facing appointments. We used to be in store, but when COVID hit, we shifted to telehealth, much like many others. And we are still in that format because it has knocked down so many barriers. People don’t have to live near a Kroger store. You don’t have to have transportation to come see a healthcare provider.


Lori Taylor (40:05.931)



Taylor Newman (40:11.75)

So now we have TeleNutrition, and you can go to www.croger.com slash TeleNutrition to meet with one of our dieticians and get that personalized nutrition guidance. We can see patients regardless if they shop at Kroger, you can pay out of pocket, we take select insurances. So we’re really trying to meet people where they’re at and make it accessible to meet with a dietician.


Lori Taylor (40:18.387)



Yeah. I’m making an appointment. I need, I think it’s fascinating. And I actually have never talked to a dietician. I mean, I’ve talked to him all the time professionally, but I’ve never, I have no idea what the dietician patient interface is like. And so I am going to make an appointment. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah, yeah. All right. Yes. So,


Tony Freytag (40:34.962)

Exciting, exciting. Yeah.


Taylor Newman (40:37.722)





Taylor Newman (40:55.622)

Yep. Yes, please stay though.


Tony Freytag (41:00.622)

Progress for all of us.


Taylor Newman (41:02.29)

I’m sorry.


Lori Taylor (41:03.73)

This has been a great episode and Taylor, this is really, it’s kind of the grand slam, so to say. We’re finishing out what’s been a great four week series with this home run of an episode. So thanks so much for being our guest and for all that you do. Let’s also use this as an opportunity to remind folks that there is a real need for grassroots mobility of the Food is Medicine movement. You need to check your health plan benefits.


There’s a real good chance that you and your loved one qualify for things, whether it’s prescription programs, medically tailored meals, other, other patient benefits of the food is medicine movement. Um, obviously lots of great tips. Join me in making an, a telehealth appointment with a Kroger dietician, please. Um, and beyond that though, Taylor, anything that you want to leave our guests with, um, as it relates to like, Hey, here’s your, here’s your call to action. Here’s what we want you to remember from today’s episode.


Taylor Newman (42:03.086)

Yeah, I mean, you hit the big ones. I think a lot of the momentum we’ve seen around food as medicine, again, is because people care. So take what you learn in today’s podcast, share it with a friend, keep talking about it and demand more from everyone out there to make sure that healthy options are affordable and accessible for everyone.


Lori Taylor (42:11.605)



All right, we’re ending with that because that was such a mic drop. I loved it. All right. We’ll, we’ll have, we’ll have better closing remarks, but that’s the ending of the show. Um, all right. All right. Hang on. I’m going to, I’m going to say like a little closing remark, but Taylor, what you just said is actually going to be the anchor of the show. It’s been such a great episode. I want to remind everyone, please rate, review, subscribe, share the produce moms podcast with your friends. It puts us in a position.


Tony Freytag (42:29.49)



Lori Taylor (42:54.538)

to continue to come at you week after week with great content and some amazing leaders who are helping us all get more fruits and vegetables on every table. I wanna obviously thank Tony Frytag, my co-host today, as well as Crunch Pack for helping to sponsor this entire series, which includes today’s episode. So with that, everyone go have a great day and thank you for being part of the Produce Moms podcast. All right, all right. I’m going to stop recording.


Tony Freytag (43:17.879)

Thank you.


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1 Comment

  1. Enjoyed so much!!! Thank you Lori, Taylor and Tony!! And thank you Crunch Pak for sponsoring this incredible and informative content!!!