Home » North Dakota Grocers’ Group Expands Scholarship Program

North Dakota Grocers’ Group Expands Scholarship Program

John Dyste

The North Dakota Grocers Association has expanded its scholarship program for those involved in the industry, as well as people who are considering a career in it.

John Dyste, president, mentioned three new scholarships that are available, one each for: high school seniors working at a local member grocery store; college students who return to work for an NDGA member in the summer; and post high school students.

The scholarship for high school seniors has been expanded to include parents who are working in the industry and have children graduating from high school who would become eligible.

The association also aims to start work programs (similar to an apprenticeship) that would piggyback with the scholarship effort. Dyste noted that the state has identified a shortage of degrees in trades related to the grocery industry, such as refrigeration, electrical and management. 

“We’re kind of excited about that one. And it’ll be interesting to see how that turns out,” he said. 

The association is aiming to do a pilot program this year with one or two companies and do a full rollout in 2023.

General updates and legislature

NDGA is currently rebuilding its website and working on a new outreach to vendor associate members in order to add value to their membership, Dyste said. 

It’s currently an off year for the state legislature, which meets every two years. He said the association will continue to work with its congressional delegation. He said the state has seen a declining number of stores in rural areas and the association has identified food deserts in a number of areas. 

Dyste mentioned North Dakota is not a highly regulated state and that it leans more toward pro-business. 

Labor and supply chain

Dyste said labor and supply chain challenges are the main concerns for his members. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.2 percent, according to the state’s Labor Market Information.

“It’s really showing up in all facets of the state of our industry and businesses,” he said. “And to the point where it’s affecting not only the grocery store itself, but the companies that are delivering the products through them or they can’t get drivers.

“So deliveries that you could count on coming in at a certain time might be hours late or maybe even shipped a different day because of a lack of workers to fill certain jobs.”

He mentioned some companies have stopped serving rural areas. “They just quit going out [there], it just wasn’t profitable. And we didn’t have help…and so that’s another one of the issues we’re working on trying to figure out how to maintain the supply channels for our stores,” Dyste said. 

Still, he said he thinks the supply chain will return to normal. “We’ll figure out ways to fix the supply chain. It will get fixed by natural causes, but I think at the same token, it’s probably going to make industry better.”

For more information, visit ndgrocers.com.

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