Puerto Rican nutritionist Marisa Santiago was named Retail Dietitian of the Year by the Retail Dietitians Business Alliance, a professional entity that represents more than 600 licensed retail dietitians in the United States, working mainly with supermarkets.
With this distinction, Santiago becomes the first Puerto Rican to receive the award.
Santiago, who directs the Healthy Path Market Nutrition Department, was recognized for her leadership, entrepreneurial skills and nutrition industry knowledge.
“Balancing business requirements with the necessary investments to create new markets in our island and educate our community is a daily challenge that I find extremely gratifying,” Santiago said. “We’re redefining what a is supermarket focused on its customers.”
Santiago promotes weight control via cooking demonstrations where she prepares delicious and healthy recipes.
As part of the program’s aim to foster correct nutrition for children, she gives educational speeches at elementary, intermediate and high schools across Puerto Rico.
Healthy Path Market is the first program of its kind in Puerto Rico and was created by AM Inc. in its Econo Gate 5, Isabela and San Sebastián supermarkets.
Healthy Path Market’s strategy includes various programs, including: Health Kitchen, which consists of live demonstrations at stores; distribution of the Healthy Shopper, a publication that offers organic and gluten free products, among other healthy objectives; and the “Viva Salud” festivals, annual events in collaboration with the community at each store.
The company also distributes an electronic newsletter “Healthy Path Weekly” with offers, recipes and educational material. Nutri-Tours are dietitian-guided tours offered to customers which include healthy product tastings at their Healthy Shopper Booth.
Another important program component is the chance for dietitian students to participate in a Dietetic Internship Practice Center and Individual Consultations with the Dietitian.
For its innovative focus, AM Inc.’s successful educational nutritional program Healthy Path Market has positioned itself as a leader on the island.
“We’re very proud of the prestigious distinction bestowed by the RDBA to our dietitian while celebrating the first anniversary of our Healthy Path Market Program,” said Enid Barillas, principal operations official for AM Inc.
“This is an important achievement for Puerto Rico and our company. The award obtained by Marisa and her work team reaffirms our promise to educate the consumer about healthy food choices, balanced meal consumption and proper health management habits in the communities we serve in the western region,” Barillas said.
Since the start of Healthy Path Market in 2015, hundreds of customers and AM Inc. employees have benefitted from the program and achieved their nutritional goals.