Established in 1986, FMI’s Esther Peterson Award honors a lifetime of dedicated service to consumers. Its namesake pioneered the position of consumer adviser at Giant and in the White House when the position of special assistant to the president for consumer affairs was created during the Johnson Administration. She later held the same post under President Carter.
“Like Esther, Odonna served as a strong and steady voice of the consumer in the boardroom,” said Tim Hammonds, FMI president and CEO, presenting the award at a ceremony this week. “She ensured that the consumer is always considered at the highest levels of decision-making.
“To the public, she became the face of Giant Food — keenly aware of consumer needs. Perhaps most important, she became the company’s ears, listening intently to customer concerns.”
Long before the nation’s focus on obesity and health, Mathews innovated numerous programs to educate consumers about fat, sugar and cholesterol. Through labels, shelf tags, booklets and other means, she educated consumers about healthy products and diets.
She ensured these programs were well informed through partnerships with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, National Cancer Institute and American Academy of Pediatrics.
Mathews is the 13th recipient of the Peterson Award. Others to receive it include Wegmans Food Markets Senior Vice President of Consumer Affairs Mary Ellen Burris, Giant Food Chairman Israel Cohen, American Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole, Associate FDA Commissioner for Consumer Affairs Alexander Grant, Psychology Today Editor-in Chief T. George Harris, U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and nutrition pioneer and Tufts University President Dr. Jean Mayer.