Wakefern has donated a record $1 million to The Academy of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University, the largest ever gift to the food business school based in Philadelphia.
The donation, which was made at Wakefern headquarters in Keasbey, NJ, will help fund educational programs and scholarships and defray costs for many of the 540 undergraduates in the Academy of Food Marketing.
One of the country’s premier food marketing schools, the academy is one of just four such undergraduate programs nationwide and is part of the larger business college at Saint Joseph’s University. Graduates pursue careers in market research, food service, wholesale and retail, and with some of largest consumer product manufacturers. It’s also the only school in the country to offer a master’s degree in food marketing.
Robert Higgins, executive director of The Academy of Food Marketing, said the donation is a boon to the business school and comes at a time when more graduates are interested in working in retail.
The Academy of Food Marketing placed 94 percent of graduates into jobs within six months of graduation last year, and the number of graduates opting for jobs in the retail sector climbed to 25 percent – the highest amount ever. A total of 88 companies also recruited food marketing majors on campus last year.
“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. Salaries are rising and there is more prestige and more room for advancement and long-term careers,” said Higgins. “This donation from Wakefern will go a long way in helping us bring great young candidates into our program and the industry.”
Wakefern, like many other food companies on the East Coast, often recruits interns and associates from The Academy of Food Marketing. Other associates and executives have also received degrees through the university. Students take core liberal arts classes along with marketing courses focused on food. They learn, for example, how the industry uses scan data to make decisions about what consumers want and what products to sell.
“There are many great careers in the supermarket business, and those jobs are not just in the retail stores. There are opportunities in sales, law, marketing, purchasing and more,” said Wakefern chairman and CEO Joseph Colalillo. “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 $1 million through its ShopRite stores and partner vendors, set the ambitious $1 million goal 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,” said Joe Sheridan, Wakefern president and COO.