Wakefern Wins Award For Fighting Hunger

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Karen Meleta (center), Vice President of Consumer and Corporate Communications with Wakefern Food Corp. of Edison, receives a Public Service Award from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association at its October 16 Awards for Excellence Dinner. Presenting the Award are NJBIA President Philip Kirschner (right) and Matt Wright (left), President of Piper Holdings and Vice Chairman of the NJBIA Board of Trustees. ©Brian Branch Price

Karen Meleta (center), Vice President of Consumer and Corporate Communications with Wakefern Food Corp. of Edison, receives a Public Service Award from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association at its October 16 Awards for Excellence Dinner. Presenting the Award are NJBIA President Philip Kirschner (right) and Matt Wright (left), President of Piper Holdings and Vice Chairman of the NJBIA Board of Trustees. ©Brian Branch Price

EDISON — As the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States, whose members independently operate nearly 250 ShopRite supermarkets in six states, Wakefern Food Corporation of Edison knows a lot about feeding people. However, the company has gone well beyond feeding its customers to setting an example in feeding the hungry as well.

Since 1999, the company has made the fight against hunger a core focus of their charitable efforts, donating more than $1.5 million annually to New Jersey food banks. The company’s in-kind donations to food banks have been equally generous and include the distribution of 50 tons of turkey a year.

For this achievement, Wakefern received a Public Service Award from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association on Oct, 16. Accepting the award was Karen Meleta, Vice President of Consumer and Corporate Communications.

“It always gives us great pleasure to recognize the outstanding achievements of our member companies. Each one of our Awards for Excellence winners has a wonderful story that deserves to be told,” said NJBIA President Philip Kirschner.

The USDA reports that the number of households in New Jersey experiencing food hardship increased from 7.7 percent in 2004-2006 to 11.5 percent in 2007-2009. As a food organization, Wakefern found that helping the cause felt like the right fit.

Wakefern has also helped to raise hunger awareness through its annual “Help Bag Hunger” program during Hunger Action Month, when local officials bag groceries and encourage shoppers to buy donation cards, and its “Create a T-Shirt Depicting Hunger” consumer contest.

These efforts have not gone unnoticed. For three years running, the Governor of New Jersey has issued a proclamation declaring the third Wednesday in September to be “ShopRite Partners in Caring Day” for its hunger fighting work.

Since 1984, NJBIA annually has honored a select group of its members with an Award for Excellence. The Awards for Excellence winners demonstrate outstanding achievements in one of four award categories: Business Expansion, Environmental Quality, Outstanding Employer, and Public Service. All 21,000 NJBIA member companies in good standing are eligible to be nominated.

The winners are selected by an independent panel of judges, who volunteer their time to conduct the judging. This year’s judging panel was comprised of individuals from SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business” and representatives from NJBIA member companies.

Mercadien P.C., Certified Public Accountants of Princeton, verified the information supplied by the winning applicants.


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