Tuskegee University students tied for first place in the 2nd annual Kroger Foundation (Foundation) Zero Hunger/ Zero Waste Innovation Challenge. The Innovation Challenge is a collaboration with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). The Innovation Challenge is made possible by the Build It Together grant awarded to TMCF from the Foundation's Racial Equity Fund. The $1 million grant supports TMCF's effort to adapt its successful innovation and entrepreneurship model to focus on food insecurity and food waste.
The Innovation Challenge was a three-day in-person business pitch competition where students from Historically Black College and University (HBCUs) 1890 land-grant institutions combine the adapted Innovation and Entrepreneurship model with support for the winning team's ideas, leveraging expertise from Kroger and the Kroger Foundation. Teams work together to design solutions for three challenges aligning with Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste mission.
The Tuskegee University Team Members were Olivia Bowles, Chera Howard, Maxwell Saine, Hali Braynon and Carmen McMeans. Their case study was “Provide a sustainable solution that will help eliminate food or operational waste in Kroger's supply chain.” Each student received $7,500 and Tuskegee University received $15,000 for participating and winning the competition.
The TU Team mentor commented on the competition and how it benefitted the students.
“This highly competitive competition truly challenged our students. They worked collectively to develop an innovative process that has the potential to save Koger millions of dollars and dramatically reduced waste,” stated Walter P. Cooper, Sr., Director of Tuskegee University Career Education Leadership Development Center. “I am encouraged by the success of our students and the commitment made by Kroger to further develop career opportunities for Tuskegee University students.”
The competition is a positive event for students across the nation and provide opportunities to Kroger and the Thurgood Marshall to help students with scholarships, while gaining ways to fight hunger and waste.
"The talent and innovation from students in this annual pitch competition continues to amaze us," said Keith Dailey, Kroger's group vice president of corporate affairs and president of The Kroger Co. Foundation. "These bright students are the future of the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste promise, and we are so proud to collaborate with them and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to offer scholarships that drive our commitment to creating more equitable communities that are free of hunger and waste."
"Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Challenge program is an important part of preparing our talented students for the real world by offering them opportunities to make a significant societal contribution while helping Kroger accomplish its goal," said Dr. Harry L. Williams, President & CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. "In addition, they are exposed to new technologies in the web 3.0 space. These amazing students work together to solve real-world challenges. They never cease to impress us with their ingenuity and initiative. We're proud to once again be part of this program, amplifying incredible, untapped talent."