Continuing to Upskill

Last April, our industry-driven Retail Management Certificate was formally recognized at the White House, during an important convening on Upskilling America, a call to action to help low-wage workers train for better jobs with bigger paychecks.

One-year later, 100 employers employing 5 million workers have upskilled tens of thousands of frontline workers. This includes the amazing work of our participating companies and our community college partners.  Retail Management Certificate participating companies represent a significant “employer voice”, and our commitment is directly in line with the President’s call to action to equip front-line workers with the skills they need to advance in their careers.

Read the latest update or visit the Upskill America website for more information.

View original blog post recognizing the WAFC and Retail Management Certificate.


Smith’s President to Retire

Jay Cummins, President Smith's

After 44 years with The Kroger Co.’s Smith’s President Jay Cummins plans to retire on April 29, 2016. His successor will be announced at a later date.

Cummins began his Kroger career as a clerk in 1972 in Huntington Beach, California. In the following years, he served in positions of increasing responsibility in store and district management and in grocery merchandising for the company’s Food 4 Less.  In 2004, he was named president of the Food 4 Less division. Cummins was named president of the Mid-Atlantic division in 2007 before assuming his current role in 2014.

Cummins currently  serves on the board of the Western Association of Food Chains and is a champion for the Retail Management Certificate.

“Working with Jay Cummins is an honor. He is a key supporter of the Retail Management Certificate and we will miss his energy and enthusiasm. I’ll never forget traveling with him to three states to promote the Retail Management Certificate Program to his employees. He is always encouraging his employees to pursue their certificate,” said Cherie Phipps, WAFC – Director, Retail Management Certificate.

Read the full story online.

Giving People The Tools To Do The Job Is Smart Business at K-VA-T

K-VA-T’s Director of Training, Barbara Thomas believes that giving people all the tools necessary to do the best job possible is vitally important. Wanting to give their employees the tools for success, Ms. Thomas began researching Retail Management Certificate Programs and quickly discovered the Retail Management Certificate created by the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) and endorsed by leading organizations such as the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and several state grocery associations. To get started, Ms. Thomas contacted Rob Ikard at the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Stores Association and others in the industry to garner support for the WAFC’s Retail Management Certificate in Tennessee.

Currently, the program is awaiting final review and approval from Dr. Warren Nichols, vice chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents. The program is expected to launch in Tennessee later this year.

To learn more about the program in Tennessee, read the full article in the Shelby Report.

Getting Ahead in Food Retail

The Retail Management Certificate was recently featured in a blog post on the Food Marketing Institute website as a program that supports career growth and aligns with the growing need for education beyond High School. Some key takeaways from the story:

According to the U.S. Department of Labor:

  • 68 percent of U.S. jobs by 2018—including the grocery industry—will require a credential, if not a degree.
  • In 2010, only 30 percent of adults ages 25 or older had a bachelor’s degree or higher and for those working in the grocery industry that number drops to only 14 to 20 percent.
  • Education is going to be key for those working in the food retail industry to progress their careers and for employers to retain quality talent.

Read the full story on FMI’s website.

El Centro offers ‘super’ Retail Management Certificate

El Centro College has partnered with the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) to provide a new Retail Management Certificate as part of this industry organization’s ongoing mission to provide quality education and career opportunities for their employees.

The White House recently lauded the Retail Management Certificate as part of President Barack Obama’s Upskill Initiative that focuses on realizing the full potential of America’s workforce by empowering Americans with the education and training needed to develop new skills and earn higher wages. The El Centro College certificate consists of nine separate classes ranging from “Principles of Management” to “Business Technology.” The academic credits received from these classes may be used toward eventually earning an associate or bachelor’s degree, if a student desires to continue learning beyond the certificate program.

“We are elated to bring this wonderful certificate program to El Centro College,” said Bryan Kaltenbach, WAFC president and chairman and president of Food4Less/Foods Co., a division of Kroger. “It’s important that we provide American workers with the skills and education to remain competitive in the world market. Dallas has long been a city that thrives on good management and entrepreneurial spirit, and we are honored to continue with that legacy.”

Beginning this fall, all of the retail management certificate classes will be available for both full-time and part-time students and will be offered in a 16-week or 8-week format, as well as a 5-week accelerated format during the summer. Courses will be taught both online and in traditional classroom formats. El Centro faculty have already agreed to teach some of these classes directly on-site of employers and other convenient locations.

Only two other colleges in Texas – Tyler Junior College and Tarrant County College – currently offer the WAFC certificate program. Nationwide, more than 15.6 million people currently work in the retail trade sector, including those employed by food and beverage stores, including supermarkets and membership warehouse clubs, gasoline stations and convenience stores, and other various subsectors of retail, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We understand the busy schedule of these new students, who are already working their way up in the retail sector,” said Lea Davis, El Centro business administration and management faculty chair. “We want to provide an opportunity for these employees to enhance their skills and have a better chance at getting a promotion in their respective companies and throughout this industry.” Davis added that although the certificate program was initially created at the bequest of the food chain sector, the integrated curriculum is applicable to all aspects of management throughout the retail industry.

William Whitsett, a student from the state of Washington, recently completed the WAFC program and subsequently saw his salary almost double. “It’s an excellent educational program that has helped catapult me ahead in a successful retail career,” Whitsett said. “What you folks are doing at the WAFC is something special, and if continued, it will change the retail industry for the better, for many generations to come.”

Whitsett’s personal experience mirrors President Obama’s strong desire for businesses to help workers of all ages earn an opportunity at better, higher-paying jobs, even if they do not have a higher education.

The Western Association of Food Chains is the recognized leader in identifying and facilitating food industry-related educational programming that helps food industry associates become leaders within the industry. While not entirely constrained geographically, the focus for these efforts remains rooted in the 14 western states of the United States, including Texas.

The Business Administration and Management programs at El Centro College provide training in a wide range of business-related topics including accounting, marketing, economics, human resources, management, and technology, all combined to help students develop skills in teamwork and leadership, motivation, and communications.

WGU Announces New Scholarships as Part of Ongoing WAFC Partnership

Our partner’s at Western Governors University (WGU) recently announced a new scholarship opportunity for eligible Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) employees.

WGU will award five WGU Western Association of Food Chains Scholarships to employees of WAFC companies for any of its College of Business or College of Information Technology bachelor’s or master’s degree programs. The scholarships, each valued at up to $2,500 ($625 per six-month term renewable for up to four terms), will be applied toward WGU’s already-low tuition of $3,000 per term for most business and IT programs. Applications are currently being accepted at

Additionally, applicants who are WAFC Retail Management Certificate graduates can benefit from the partnership with a five percent tuition discount, as well as, generous transfer credits for their Retail Management Certificate credits.

“WGU’s partnership with WAFC centers on providing affordable and accessible degree programs and these scholarships will help open the door for more students seeking to complete their bachelor’s degree or further their career by adding a master’s degree,” said Dr. Eric Goodman, WGU’s National Director of College of Business.

To be eligible for this scholarship, applicants must be newly enrolling students who have been officially admitted to the university and complete an interview with a scholarship counselor. Special consideration will be given to graduates of the WAFC Retail Management Certificate Program. This is a competitive process and scholarships will be awarded based on the student’s academic record, readiness for online study, and current competency, as well as other considerations. To learn more about WGU and the WGU WAFC scholarship, visit

Find out if your employer is a WAFC member

Retail Management Certificate formally recognized at the White House

Last Friday, April 24th, 2015, our industry-driven Retail Management Certificate was formally recognized at the White House, during an important convening on Upskilling America.

The WAFC’s recognition was predicated on the 2015 commitment our partner companies made to support of the Retail Management Certificate with specific enrollment and completion goals.  The WAFC Board of Directors represent a significant “employer voice”, and our commitment is directly in line with the President’s call to action in January to equip front-line workers with the skills they need to advance in their careers.

The event was presided over by Vice President Joe Biden, with added remarks from the Secretaries of Commerce, Education, and Labor.

“It is quite an honor to have our Nation’s capital shine such a spotlight on the Retail Management Certificate that you all have worked so diligently to build. We are grateful for your tireless efforts to help build education depth throughout our Industry,” said Cherie Phipps, WAFC Director, Retail Management Certificate.

“Congratulations to all who have worked in elevating our efforts in “Advancing the Food Industry through Education and Leadership,” said Carole Christianson, WAFC Chief Operating Officer.

For more information, see the White House Fact Sheet.


94th Annual WAFC Convention

Join us for the 94th Annual WAFC Convention on May 2-6, 2015 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert, California. The WAFC convention brings together retailers, wholesalers, brokers, manufacturers and suppliers from all sectors of the food industry together.   We have an exciting line-up of speakers and opportunities to network, conduct a little business and have fun.

More Information/Registration