WASHINGTON, DC — October 5, 2006 — In recognition of superior training and human resource programs, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) presented the 2006 Maximizing People Potential Award ("MAXX Award") to Wakefern Food Corporation, Elizabeth, NJ, for the company’s comprehensive "Partners in Training" program. The award is presented annually to a retailer or wholesaler that develops an initiative to improve the performance of employees or leads to achievement of a key business goal.

"This program demonstrates how FMI members are working to train employees and serve the communities in which they do business. Wakefern’s program shows how successful public/private partnerships have the ability to change lives," said Kimberly Roberts, senior manager, education programs, FMI.

Wakefern created a cashier-training and placement program, which included instructor-led sessions and classroom education. Wakefern and its partners in the project, New Community Corporation and Goodwill Industries, emphasized their commitment to community advocacy by recruiting job-seekers who are recipients of financial assistance.

The program was created to serve the community by providing job and life skills to candidates who are seeking to gain their financial independence and become self-reliant, as well as to develop a skilled and trained workforce for ShopRite stores. "Partners in Training" was established in 2000 and has a 76 percent retention rate among participants.

Finalists included:

•     Hy-Vee, Inc., West Des Moines, IA, for the "Welcome & Customer Service Training” orientation process, which sustains employee interest, improves employee information retention and develops a service-focused staff.

•     BI-LO/Bruno’s, LLC, Greenville, SC, for "Human Resources Planning Process," which included: assessing employee strengths and opportunities, experience and performance objectives in light of current and future business needs; defining employee career profiles and considering their advancement within the company; and advising employees of career-enhancing opportunities.

•     SUPERVALU INC., Minneapolis, MN, for "A Work-Based Learning Approach to Leadership Development," a workplace learning program, which provides a thorough, accelerated development approach for mid-level associates while solving key business initiatives through a cross-functional team.

Award submissions were judged on four categories: 1) impact on workplace learning and performance, 2) return on investment, 3) involvement of company leaders and 4) originality. Four finalists were selected by attendees at the recent FMI Human Resources/Training & Development Conference. Attendees at the conference chose the outstanding program.

Submissions for next year’s award will be accepted starting late spring 2007. Contact Kimberly Roberts at (202) 220-0720 or kroberts@fmi.org for more details.