Kroger Foundation and Thurgood Marshall College Fund Collaborate for Third Annual Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Challenge

PRNewsfoto/The Kroger Co.
PRNewsfoto/The Kroger Co.

Kroger Foundation and Thurgood Marshall College Fund Collaborate for Third Annual Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Challenge

Pitch competition winners awarded more than $220,000 in scholarships across three years

CINCINNATI, PRNewswire -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) Foundation announced the scholarship award recipients and entrepreneurial pitch competition results from its third annual Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Challenge in collaboration with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). The Innovation Challenge is made possible by $1.35 million in grants awarded to TMCF from the foundation's Racial Equity Fund. The grants support TMCF's effort to adapt its successful innovation and entrepreneurship model to focus on food insecurity and food waste.

The Innovation Challenge is a three-day in-person business pitch competition where students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) 1890 land-grant institutions combine the adapted Innovation and Entrepreneurship model to solve Zero Hunger | Zero Waste challenges, using expertise from Kroger and The Kroger Co. Foundation.

"The Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Challenge creates an environment for students to think strategically about a seemingly intractable challenge – the intersection of hunger and food waste – and apply their ingenuity to help solve it," said Keith Dailey, Kroger's group vice president of corporate affairs and president of The Kroger Co. Foundation. "We are so proud to work with Thurgood Marshall College Fund and these talented student innovators to find new ways to eliminate hunger and waste in our communities."

There were 30 students and six teams participating, representing 11 HBCUs. Three teams pitched an innovative solution for how Kroger can use artificial intelligence to improve health and nutrition in underserved communities through increased food access. The remaining three teams addressed how Kroger can use technology to reduce food waste and make meaningful impact toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions in supply chain and operations. The company awarded $45,750 in scholarships.

The winners and grant recipients include:

First Place: The Innovisionaries, each team member awarded $5,000.
Team Members: Leoshana Johnson, Central State University; Asia Kimpson, Central State University; Eric Williams, Central State University; Aaliyah Umoru, Texas Southern University; and Ikechi Africs, Fisk University.

Second Place: Estaw, each team member awarded $2,500.
Team Members: Michael Agoha, Howard University; Chania Blairr, Wilberforce University; Ashley Adams, Bluefield State University; Justin Collins, Prairie View A&M University; and Sophonie Janvie, North Carolina A&T State University.

Third Place: The McMullen Innovators, each team member awarded $1,250.
Team Members: Sianna Carr, Wilberforce University; Joseph Boadi, Bluefield State University; Devin Watkins, North Carolina A&T State University; Destiny Haywood, Langston University; and Elijah Okoroh, Fisk University.

Most Outstanding Players: Destiny Haywood, Langston University and Rita Osi, Jackson State University.

Award: $1,000 for each team member.
"I can't say enough about our talented students who competed during Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Challenge program," said Dr. Harry Williams, President & CEO of Thurgood Marshall College Fund. "Our students are exposed to the technologies that combat food insecurity in a challenging setting where they have an opportunity to make societal contributions toward a solution that will benefit others. We're always proud to partner with Kroger and appreciate their intentional investment in our students."

At The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR), we are dedicated to our Purpose: To Feed the Human Spirit™. We are, across our family of companies nearly half a million associates who serve over 11 million customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and retail food stores under a variety of banner names, serving America through food inspiration and uplift, and creating #ZeroHungerZeroWaste communities by 2025.

Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation's largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF member-schools include the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions, enrolling nearly 80% of all students attending black colleges and universities. Through scholarships, capacity building and research initiatives, innovative programs, and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the K-12 and higher education space. The organization is also the source of top employers seeking top talent for competitive internships and good jobs. TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. For more information about TMCF, visit:

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