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SALT LAKE CITY — On a day appropriately set aside for charitable giving, Giving Tuesday, two of the industry's leading retailer and supplier companies teamed up to make the holiday season a little brighter for hundreds of hungry families in the state of Utah.
At the same time, they celebrated the retailer's achievement as the top foodservice innovator in the convenience store industry in 2014.
North Salt Lake City-based Maverik Inc. was named the Foodservice Innovator of the Year in Convenience Store News' 2014 Foodservice Innovators Awards program, presented in partnership with Tyson Foods. The annual awards program recognizes retail leaders who are raising the bar on quality, service and innovation in the critically important foodservice category. Winners were chosen by CSNews' 18-member How To Do World-Class Foodservice How To Crew, consisting of experts from the retail, supplier, research and consulting fields.
One of the prime highlights of the awards program is Tyson's contribution of food to a local food bank on behalf of the winning retailer. This year, Tyson donated more than 30,000 pounds of chicken to the Utah Food Bank located in Salt Lake City.
“At Maverik, we want to be part of the local communities we serve. The Utah Food Bank is one of the causes that Maverik employees and customers support each year,” said Aaron Simpson, Maverik's vice president of Customer Fanatics. “This year, we are honored to team up with both Tyson Foods and the Utah Food Bank to provide meals for families in our community who are in need.”
Tyson Foods has been an active participant in the fight against hunger for a decade, donating more than 96 million pounds of protein, or the equivalent of 300 million meals. The company partners with Share Our Strength, Lift Up America, Feeding America, and the League of United Latin American Citizens to raise awareness and help feed the hungry across the nation. The company’s current “KNOW Hunger” campaign is focused on helping more people understand and join the effort to eliminate hunger in America.
"We are delighted to be part of this special day," said Kristin Bird, vice president of convenience store sales and marketing for Bentonville, Ark.-based Tyson. "Our 'KNOW Hunger' campaign is spelled K-N-O-W, but with the emphasis on N-O."
The donation and award presentations were made at a Maverik store located in an especially needy and economically disadvantaged area of Salt Lake City.
For over 100 years, the Utah Food Bank has stayed true to its mission to serve those in need throughout the state. In 2013, the food bank distributed more than 31 million meals via a statewide network of 134 partner agencies located in 29 counties. In addition to distributing food, the food bank has a kid’s café, backpack program, food box program and mobile pantries. The Utah Food Bank is a member of Feeding America’s nationwide network of more than 200 food banks.
Utah Food Bank President and CEO Jim Yorgason expressed his thanks to Maverik, Tyson and CSNews. "This donation couldn't have come at a better time," he said. "It will make the holiday season for some of the 444,000 people in Utah who suffer from food insecurity — they are unsure of where their next meal is coming from."
At the event, Danielle Mattiussi, Maverik's vice president of operations, thanked the local store team and noted how good it made them all feel to support the Utah Food Bank. After the festivities at the store, Maverik hosted a lunch for Tyson executives and CSNews.
"At Maverik, I think we've always tread the path less traveled," said CEO Tom Welch. "We've built and differentiated the Maverik brand by doing things differently than anybody else — and being an innovator in foodservice is critically important to our future."
Simpson praised the entire Maverik foodservice team consisting of Jessica Pierce, Greg Pulley, Rich Green, Ryan Olsen and Kyle Lore. "They've always known it's about the food. They've been able to get people to actually crave our food. People will drive out of their way for a meal at Maverik. It's not only about convenience anymore."
Crystal Maggelet of Maverik's parent company, FJ Management, pointed out that "everybody's trying to figure out foodservice. This Innovators Award means we are getting it right, but it also means that through innovation we will keep doing it right in the future."
Welch concluded: "This was truly a special day for all our people."
Click here to view all the 2014 CSNews Foodservice Innovators Awards winners, along with video and commentary.