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Johnson a ‘Zero Hero’

Ruth Johnson of Suffolk recently won Kroger’s Zero Hero award for her dedication in organizing food drives in her store and for her church.

Kroger started an initiative called Zero Hunger Zero Waste with the three-year goal to donate one billion meals. In celebration of surpassing this goal in 2020, Kroger wanted to recognize an associate in each division that goes beyond to feed their community with the Zero Hero award.

The Mid-Atlantic Division includes more than 100 stores in Virginia, West Virginia, and some in Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio. The winner for this division was Ruth Johnson from Suffolk.

“This award means a lot,” said Johnson. “It shows I can help other people and feed a lot of families.”

Johnson has been with Kroger since May 2018, when Farm Fresh closed. She was previously with Farm Fresh before the transition.

Johnson was nominated from the store by the department heads. As they held a meeting to discuss who to nominate, Johnson’s name kept coming up.

“It feels awesome to have someone from our store receive this award,” said Kayla Saccoccio, Kroger’s assistant store manager. “We are very proud of Ruth and her accomplishments and are proud to stand by her.”

Johnson has served with her church, Balm of Gilead Missionary Baptist Church, and its food ministry for 41 years. As the winner of the Zero Hero award, Kroger donated $2,000 to help with the food ministry at Johnson’s church. The church offers a hot meal every day at noon to those who need it.

“It is an honor to have this opportunity to speak on the great things that my church has done in the city of Suffolk,” said Johnson. “I can’t wait to see what we are able to do this holiday season and as we help those affected by the coronavirus.”

In its Zero Hunger Zero Waste initiative, Kroger donates to Feeding America food banks and sponsors its own drive at the store. Johnson is an active participant in these drives. She stated that in 2018, Kroger donated to 300 families for Thanksgiving, and more than 600 in 2019.

The drive gave food to families to cook for a complete Thanksgiving meal. Last year, the boxes included paper goods to supply the additional need.

“Kroger’s purpose is to feed the human spirit,” said Saccoccio. “To have an associate embody this at our location in and out of work is amazing. It feels great that we get to showcase that.”