CINCINNATI, June 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) was named Employer of the Year by the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities at the organization's annual Bridges Gala in Washington, D.C. last night. The Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities fosters the employment of young people with disabilities. The Bridges from School to Work program run by the Marriott Foundation helps more than a thousand young people enter the workforce annually with steady, beneficial employment as they leave high school. "We are honored to receive this recognition from the Marriott Foundation," said Katy Barclay, Kroger's senior vice president of human resources. "We have a long tradition of hiring people with disabilities, especially on our front lines serving customers. Associates we have hired through the Bridges program are consistently among our most reliable and friendly employees. Customers often select a check lane in order to be served by a youth we have hired through Bridges. We thank the Marriott Foundation for the valuable work they do to help businesses meet their workforce development needs." The Bridges program operates in communities throughout the United States – including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and parts of Maryland – where the Kroger family of stores partners to place young people with disabilities in stores. Kroger, one of the world's largest retailers, employs more than 375,000 associates who serve customers in 2,640 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 786 convenience stores, 320 fine jewelry stores, 1,240 supermarket fuel centers and 38 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. SOURCE The Kroger Co.