CINCINNATI, Sept. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) announced today that four associates have been named Certified Cheese Professionals™ by the American Cheese Society. Kroger associates Marcella Wright ( Portland, OR), Mark Lucier ( Cincinnati, OH), Logan Class ( Dayton, OH), and Brandon Schilling ( Atlanta, GA) have joined the ranks of an elite group of 253 individuals who have passed the Certified Cheese Professional™ Exam. The exam was created by the American Cheese Society to promote the large and comprehensive world of cheeses and encourage food industry professionals to master the knowledge. "We are proud of Marcella, Mark, Logan and Brandon for dedicating themselves to their craft and sharing their passion for cheese with our customers," said Margaret McClure, Kroger's vice president of deli/bakery. "Their designation as Certified Cheese Professionals is an inspiration to Kroger's many talented cheese stewards who take pride in delighting our customers." With U.S. per capita cheese consumption at all-time highs and projected to grow, Kroger is committed to being the destination for cheese. Through an exclusive partnership with New York'sGreenwich Village-based Murray's Cheese, the Kroger family of stores hosts more than 89 Murray's Cheese shops in stores from coast-to-coast. For more information about ACS CCPs™, please visit www.cheesesociety.org. Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs 343,000 associates who serve customers in 2,418 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 783 convenience stores, 326 fine jewelry stores, 1,195 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S. Recognized by Forbes as the most generous company in America, Kroger supports hunger relief, breast cancer awareness, the military and their families, and more than 30,000 schools and grassroots organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 200 million meals a year through more than 80 Feeding America food bank partners. A leader in supplier diversity, Kroger is a proud member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber's Million Dollar Club.