K-VA-T Food Stores President and CEO Steve Smith received the Employer of the Year award during the Oct. 23 opening ceremonies of the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division of Career Development and Transition (DCDT). The award is presented to an employer or business that has shown remarkable commitment to promoting or providing employment opportunities to students with disabilities.
Food City was nominated for the award by a local team, including ETSU’s Dr. Dawn Rowe, a member of the organization, Teresa Smith (UT Center for Literacy, Education and Employment), Susan Arwood (CORE services) and Lottie Ryans (FTDD). When considering a worthy employer from the region, the committee said Food City topped the list for everyone.
“I’m humbled and honored to accept this distinguished award on behalf of our entire Food City team – particularly our Store Managers and Human Resource Coordinators, who work diligently to ensure we provide every opportunity possible to enable our associates with disabilities to become an integral part of our team. They do such a great job and mean so much to our company and our customers,” said Steven C. Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer.
This year alone, Food City has hired 23 individuals with disabilities (students and adults) through the Tennessee Division of Rehabilitation Services in the Northeast Tennessee Region.
Smith has not only supported the hiring of individuals with diverse abilities, he has given his managers the opportunity to act as advocates for the hiring of individuals with disabilities by other businesses. Many Food City managers across the region have served on panels at employer events to promote hiring individuals with disabilities to other employers.
Food City is known for recruiting and hiring individuals with diverse abilities with the desire, knowledge, and skills to complete the various jobs at hand. As Sara Spahr, the Divisional Human Resources Specialist for the Tri-Cities division of Food City, indicated during an employer panel at the Tennessee Higher Education Alliance meeting held at East Tennessee State University in February of this year, it is important employees find a good job match. Food City has many different jobs available and the company is willing to work with potential employees to find the job that works best for them.
DCDT is a professional membership organization. Its mission is “to promote national and international efforts to improve the quality of, and access to, career/vocational and transition services, increase the participation of education in career development and transition goals, and to influence policies affecting career development and transition services for persons with disabilities.” The organizations 1,100+ members include special education teachers, administrators, family members, service providers, researchers.