News Briefs


Tops Mass Shooter Gets Life in Prison

Tops Memorial Buffalo Teaser

The 19-year-old gunman who killed 10 people last May in a racially motivated mass shooting at a Tops Markets store in Buffalo, N.Y., was sentenced to life in prison without parole at a court hearing this week, according to CNN and other published reports. Payton Gendron, who pleaded guilty last November to one count of domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate, 10 counts of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder and a weapons possession charge for the mass shooting expressed remorse for his actions.  

At the hearing, several victims’ family members spoke about how the mass shooting had affected their lives. A man identified as a family member of one of the victims rushed at Gendron in court at one point but was prevented from reaching him by security. 

Gendron shot a total of 13 people, 11 of them Black. All of the fatalities were Black.

On the federal level, Gendron faces 10 counts of hate crime resulting in death, three counts of hate crime involving bodily injury, 10 counts of use of a firearm to commit murder during and in relation to a violent crime, and three counts of use and discharge of a firearm during a violent crime, according to a criminal complaint.

He has pleaded not guilty to the federal charges, whichcould result in the death penalty. In December, Gendron’s attorneys said at a court hearing that he would be willing to plead guilty to the federal charges if prosecutors took the death penalty off the table.


FMI Promotes 2 Communications and Insights Execs

Left to right: Steve Markenson, Kelli Windsor

FMI – The Food Industry Association has promoted two executives, Steve Markenson and Kelli Windsor, who both focus on insights and online communications at the trade organization.  

Markenson is now VP, research and insights. He led more than 40 research and insights projects in 2022, as well as spearheading FMI’s new Research & Insights Committee to ensure the trade group’s research and members are keeping pace with the latest industry trends and research techniques. During his six years at FMI, Markenson has developed transparency protocols in regard to methodologies, analysis, reporting and data collection in line with American Association of Public Opinion Research standards. He’s also one of only 20 individuals to achieve the Insights Association designation of “Master.” Before joining FMI, Markenson owned and operated a strategic insights firm.

Windsor is now senior director, digital communications. Having joined the organization nine years ago, she manages and maintains a dynamic website user experience and assumed oversight of the overall strategy of FMI’s website in 2021. Windsor oversees the internal cross-functional and cross-departmental FMI editorial board to drive readership of the FMI Voice of Food Industry blog and other online resources, as well as being a champion of the analytics side of the FMI business, in which capacity she guides focused communications and storytelling regarding FMI programs, resources, services and activities. Windsor also plays a key role in campaigns highlighting FMI’s signature research. 

“Our team members’ performance aligns with where the food industry is investing in talent to create better connections and engagements through modern communications and marketing strategies,” said Heather Garlich, SVP, communications, marketing and consumer/community affairs at Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “It’s a great pleasure to tout my colleagues’ contributions that hone our industry’s insights and effectively serve our members.”


How Do Grocery Employees Rate their Large Employers?


Several grocers made the list of  America’s Best Large Employers, released by business magazine Forbes this week. The ranking is based on a survey of about 45,000 people who work for companies with more than 5,000 employees and who were asked whether they would recommend their current employer.

H-E-B came in high on the list, at No. 5.  The Texas-based grocer has a roster of about 145,000 employees, which is set to grow as H-E-B expands its footprint with new stores.

Others in the top 100 include Trader Joe’s (No. 16), Costco Wholesale (No. 25), Wegmans Food Markets (No. 44), QuikTrip (No. 79), Publix Super Markets (No. 82) and ALDI (No. 85). 

At Publix, spokeswoman Maria Brous attributed the recognition to the company’s ownership model, tendency to promote from within and support of employees preparing for advancement. “It’s an honor to know that our associates enjoy working at Publix and would recommend us to their friends and family,” Brous said. “For more than 90 years, our associates have shared our culture and driven our success. We’re proud of their contributions and remain committed to investing in them.”

Forbes’ complete list is available online.

The retailers on Forbes list are also ranked on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. San Antonio, Texas-based H-E-B is No. 16; Monrovia, Calif.-based Trader Joe’s is No. 27; Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco is No. 3; Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans is No. 34; Tulsa, Okla.-based QuikTrip Corpis No. 33; Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix is No. 12; and Batavia, Ill.-based ALDI U.S. is No. 24 on the PG 100.


Dollar General Recognized for Leadership and Development Programs

Dollar General Checkout Teaser

Dollar General has been recognized by Training magazine for the retailer’s training initiatives with the Hall of Fame Best New Training Initiative award. The company has been featured on the publication’s Top 100 list for more than 10 consecutive years and was named to the Training Hall of Fame in 2021.

“Dollar General proudly continues to grow and improve our leadership and development offerings for employees,” noted Kathy Reardon, the company’s EVP and chief people officer. “Whether through daily reinforcement training, our commercial drivers’ license program (CDL), zero-debt degrees, or general education courses for our employees and their families, we are proud to invest in our people and the communities we call home through education.”

[Read more: "Dollar General Opens 19,000th Store"]

Last year, Dollar General partnered with Herndon, Va.-based Workforce Edge to provide full-time employer-paid degree programs from Strayer University and Capella University. The retailer also offers a yearly tuition assistance allocation for full-time employees to fund the completion or start of a new degree program at a higher-education institution of their choice. 

Along with the degree options, Dollar General employees and their immediate family members can access Minneapolis-based Sophia Learning, an online, on-demand self-paced learning platform offering general education courses to launch their education and pursue professional development. 

Dollar General also offers robust internal training programs and pathways for career growth, including an internal CDL program that gives current store and distribution center employees the chance to receive on-the-job training to earn their licenses and join the DG Private Fleet network.

Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based Dollar General operated 19,000 stores in 47 states as of Jan. 28. The company is No. 15 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.


Wegmans Moves to Accept EBT SNAP Payments Online

Wegmans app teaser

Wegmans Food Markets is making it easier for Electronic Benefits Transfer and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (EBT SNAP) recipients to use their benefits to make online purchases. The payment method is now being accepted for online grocery orders made via and the Wegmans app, with users receiving free delivery for three orders.

Customers using EBT SNAP can apply a filter while shopping in order to display only those items that qualify for the benefits, and also designate the amount charged to their benefits. A secondary form of payment will be required for items not covered under EBT SNAP.

[Read more: "Wegmans Cutting the Ribbon on New Virginia Store"]

“Each week, thousands of Wegmans orders are placed on the Wegmans app and website, and we continue to hear from customers that it would be helpful to be able to use their SNAP benefits when placing an order,” said Erica Tickle, Wegmans VP of e-commerce. “Adding this functionality is an important step to further increase access to healthy food throughout the communities we serve.”

Continued Trish Kazacos, Wegmans corporate nutrition manager: “Through this initiative, we’re supporting our company mission of helping people live healthier, better lives through food. Over the last year, we’ve focused on developing tools and resources to help all our customers plan and shop for foods that support health. Accepting EBT SNAP for online orders helps to increase access to affordable, nutritious foods.”

Family-owned Wegmans operates more than 100 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and Massachusetts. The company is No. 34 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named Wegmans as a Top Regional to watch in 2023.


Kroger Union Associates in Atlanta Receive Wage Increase

kroger ohio teaser

The Kroger Co. employees in Atlanta and Savannah, Ga., represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) 1996 will receive a wage increase thanks to a mutual agreement between the grocer and the union. Starting wages will rise to $14.50 an hour for clerks, and early increases in hourly wages will be given to all eligible associates.

Existing clerks earning less than $14.50 per hour will have their wages increased, according to a joint statement from Kroger UFCW 1996, and courtesy clerk hourly wages will rise to $11.75. Effective Feb. 5, all other associates will receive their next scheduled increase, which was originally set to take place on June 25.

[Read more: "Are Kroger and Albertsons Closer to Store Divestitures?"]

“The company and union agree that these wage increases will be an investment in associates. These wage increases, as well as existing pensions for retirement, and affordable, competitive healthcare are some of the outstanding benefits negotiated for you between the union and the company,” the joint statement read. “Other than these changes, all other terms and conditions of the collective bargaining agreements stay the same.”

The Atlanta and Savannah agreements cover 22,000 workers, all of which will see a pay increase. While the union says paycheck updates will take several weeks to be implemented, all increased pay will be retroactive to Feb. 5.

Serving 60 million households annually nationwide through a digital shopping experience, and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America