For their efforts to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations throughout the state, Minnesota-based grocery chain Cub Foods and its pharmacy team are this year’s recipients of the Peter J. Larkin Community Service Award from the National Grocers Association.
The announcement and award presentation occurred Sunday during the opening session of the 2022 NGA Show at the Caesars Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas. Cub Foods’ delegation accepted the award, led by Director of Pharmacy Aaron Sapp and Manager of Clinical Services Erin Suomala.
Greg Ferrara, NGA president and CEO, praised the members of Cub Foods’ pharmacy team.
“[They] truly exemplified what this award is about by going the extra mile, including donating their personal time, to take care of their local community by helping ensure vaccines got into the arms of the local community, the elderly and first responders,” he said.
“The commitment of their team members, who were on the ground in the stores to go the extra mile for their community, really resonated with the award review committee and reinforced the important role independent grocers play in their communities.”
The Cub team worked with the Minnesota Department of Health, whose officials described the company as Minnesota’s “strongest pharmacy partner, bar none.” Cub played a pivotal role in the early vaccination of teachers last winter and has been active in the state’s mission of health equity.
When booster shots became available, Gov. Tim Walz, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm were asked to receive their boosters from Cub Pharmacy at the Northside Community Center in Minneapolis.
Cub provided drive-up flu and COVID vaccination clinics, helped vaccinate professional and college athletes and set up pop-up clinics at sporting events to vaccinate fans.
Notably, Cub team members donated their personal time to administer vaccines outside the pharmacy, including long-term care homes and senior housing. They rallied to get a National Guard unit vaccinated a day ahead of its deployment. They continue to organize events and clinics to assist in vaccinating all age groups eligible for the shot.
“Commitment to community is typical of independent community grocers, but Cub’s effort to lead the charge in a public health crisis goes above and beyond,” Ferrara said.
The creation of the award, named in honor of NGA’s former president and CEO and sponsored by Kimberly-Clark, was announced during the 2019 NGA Show as a way to recognize an independent retailer or wholesaler company for unique and strong service to the community during the previous year.
“I’m honored to congratulate Cub Foods as the recipient of this year’s Peter Larkin Award for community service for all they do every day to serve their communities,” said Denny Belcastro, the company’s VP of industry affairs and customer development. “Kimberly-Clark is proud to support such an important award.”
Belcastro also announced the continuation of Kimberly-Clark’s partnership with NGA member retailers to donate diapers for needy families to the National Diaper Bank Network, established by its Huggies brand in 2011. Since then, the network has contributed more than 250 million diapers, and the network has grown to some 200 banks across the country, serving 200,000 children each month.
“We are thrilled to collaborate with the National Grocers Association and its independent retailer members,” Belcastro said. “Diaper need is a critical issue in the U.S., affecting one in three families.”