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Supervalu’s Chicago-based Jewel-Osco food and drug subsidiary is readying to pay tribute to its African-American vendors and their entrepreneurial spirit with “A Taste of Black History,” in conjunction with the retailer’s annual salute to Black History Month in February.
This year’s program will kick off with the 11th annual “A Taste of Black History” reception on Jan. 28 at Chicago’s South Shore Cultural Center. WVON-AM Radio Talk Show Host Cliff Kelley will serve as master of ceremonies for the event, which will feature an interpretive performance by the cast of the award-winning play “Black Nativity.”
During the reception, Jewel-Osco, which operates 182 stores in Illinois, Iowa and Indiana, will award a total of $15,000 to three Chicago organizations — Englewood Food Network, Community Christian Alternative Academy and the Center for Urban Transformation — in recognition of their outstanding community contributions.
The regional chain will also recognize the contributions and entrepreneurship of its African-American vendors, which help to create and support a supply chain that affects many hundreds of people by providing jobs and sustaining multiple business ventures. Their contributions will be acknowledged during the reception with awards for three vendors:
—Derryl Reed of Smokin’ Joe Products, LLC will receive the Brand Ambassador Award for aggressively working to promote the brand in the marketplace
—LaVonne Sanders of Popcorn and More, Inc. will receive the Innovator Award for continually recreating the MixMatch brand
—Paul Fregia of Grandma Maud’s will receive the Legacy Award for longevity in the Supplier Diversity Program
“Jewel-Osco has always understood the value of developing minority vendors,” said Jim Seidler, Jewel-Osco’s ethnic category manager. “We believe offering their products shows we understand our customers’ needs. In turn, we hope customers recognize that, by purchasing African-American vendor products, they are also supporting these outstanding men and women.”
Guests at the reception will have the opportunity to taste and experience more than 25 soul-stirring dishes prepared by students from Chicago’s Washburne Culinary Institute and culinary students from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and featuring Jewel-Osco African-American vendor products.
“We are committed to developing and growing locally owned African-American businesses,” said Jewel-Osco president Keith Nielsen. “Our partnership with the Washburne Culinary Institute and Chicago Public Schools is just one example of how we hope to encourage future generations to make their own mark on the food industry.”
As part of “A Taste of Black History,” Jewel-Osco will also host in-store celebrations and tastings throughout the month of February.