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Wakefern Food Corp. has donated $1 million to The Academy of Food Marketing at St. Joseph’s University -- the largest-ever gift to the Philadelphia-based food business school.
The donation, which was presented this week at the retail cooperative’s headquarters in Keasbey, N.J., will help fund educational programs and scholarships and defray costs for many of the 540 undergraduates at the academy, one of only four such undergraduate programs nationwide.
“More young people are seeing the benefits of working in retail, which is changing rapidly and where the breadth of careers and experiences is growing,” said Robert Higgins, executive director of the academy. “Salaries are rising and there is more prestige and more room for advancement and long-term careers. This donation from Wakefern will go a long way in helping us bring great young candidates into our program and the industry.”
“There are many great careers in the supermarket business, and those jobs are not just in the retail stores,” added Wakefern chairman and CEO Joseph Colalillo. “There are opportunities in sales, law, marketing, purchasing and more. We need leaders in the industry, and we think an important way to grow the industry and develop future leaders is through programs like The Academy of Food Marketing.”
Wakefern, which raised the donation through its ShopRite stores and partner vendors, set the goal at $1 million after raising $850,000 in 2008 and $750,000 in 2003 for the school.
“It’s a fantastic amount, and it speaks to the priority Wakefern and its vendor partners put on education and leadership in the industry,” noted Wakefern president and COO Joe Sheridan.
The largest retailer-owned co-op in the U.S., Wakefern comprises 48 members who individually own and operate almost 250 ShopRite supermarkets in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.