OSERS: Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
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National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2009
Food Lion Success Story


To some people in Wilmington, Delaware, that meant more local traffic, especially during rush hour. To others it was exciting to hear that a new supermarket was opening. To the counselors and employment specialists at the Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) it was great news—it meant getting people jobs.

In June 2009, DVR Employment Specialist John Ludwig saw the help wanted sign and contacted the manager of Food Lion, LLC. He learned that stores were opening in two other Delaware towns, and that they were in need of a location to hold an employment fair. Initially, John offered to aide Food Lion in the interviewing process and proposed using a few DVR offices for the interviews.  However, after a second conversation with the manager, he quickly realized that Food Lion’s needs were far beyond what he initially envisioned. John sought the assistance of District Administrator Cynthia Fairwell who requested a teleconference with Food Lion. She found that:

  1. Food Lion had plans to open three stores in New Castle County before the end of the year. (One in late August, one in early October, and one store at the end of the year.)
  2. Food Lion was looking for a location to do interviews that would accommodate 11 human resources (HR) representatives who could start at 8:00 a.m. and interview until 5:00 p.m.
  3. Food Lion's plan was to staff the two northern store locations first. The intended to hold two sessions during which they would interview every person who expressed an interest in their company. 
  4. Food Lion was looking for assistance in advertising their need for qualified workers.
  5. Food Lion had three weeks to make this happen and was requesting DVR's assistance.

Realizing this task would call for more help than anticipated, DVR met with the Division of Employment and Training staff and invited them to become partners for the employment fair.

Due to great advertising, Food Lion received an abundance of applications. They decided that every person who submitted an application would be given a 15-minute preliminary interview with a Food Lion HR manager and, if the person received an adequate rating during their preliminary interview, he or she would be given a call back interview.

During the three weeks leading up to the employment fair, Food Lion held daily conference calls, planning meetings, and sent several e-mails confirming the logistics of the employment fair. Food Lion representatives became such regulars at the Department of Labor (DOL) building that they were treated like DOL staff. DVR Division Director Andrea Guest, Secretary of Labor Thomas McMahon, and Division of Employment & Training Director Thomas Smith were kept abreast of all activities and supported all efforts wholeheartedly.

By all accounts the employment fair was a success. In fact, one Food Lion manager stated that the event was one of the "best managed and most organized employment fairs" she had witnessed in some time. During the two sessions, approximately 600 people from diverse backgrounds were interviewed by Food Lion, forty-five of whom were DVR clients. There were no problems with crowd control, staffing the interviews, or the time frames allotted for people to be seen. Job seekers gave one another encouragement and appeared to exhibit a sense of camaraderie.

Food Lion staff was elated with the great outreach and customer service they received from DOL, especially John and the DVR Employment Services Unit who saw a need from the business perspective and did what was essential to meet that need.

When Food Lion in Wilmington opened its doors on August 26, 2009, 25 of the 60 new employees hired were DVR consumers!

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The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U.S. Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Last Modified: 10/06/2009