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• H-E-B announced that it has launched an early childhood literacy initiative to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of reading to children a minimum of three times per week and to provide families with the tools and resources they need to prepare their early learners for school.

The H-E-B Read 3 campaign is said to be the brainchild of H-E-B CEO and Chairman Charles Butt who has a strong commitment to education. In Texas, the company points out, “almost one third of the state's children entering the first grade are living in poverty while one in four Texas preschool children are not read to on a regular basis ... The H-E-B Read 3 campaign has three basic components -- an in-store learning and shopping experience for customers, access to affordable books and community outreach.”

H-E-B plans to open 10 literacy centers in 10 of its stores by fall 2011. Currently, the company has two literacy centers -- one in Tomball, Texas and the other in Laredo, Texas.

• Fitch Ratings is out with a new report on the US supermarket industry, indicating that it “is beginning to stabilize after two difficult years due to a more rational pricing environment together with higher food inflation.”

However, the report also says that “the long-term challenges facing the industry - which include ongoing increases in healthcare costs, built-in increases in union labor rates, and the encroachment of new competitors and discount formats - will make it difficult for traditional supermarkets, with the exception of Kroger, to produce a sustained turnaround that enables them to restore margins to their pre-2009 levels.”

Reuters reports that William Tennant, a former Duane Reade executive,
has been spared a prison sentence for his fraud conviction related to the falsifying of books at the chain between 2000 and 2005. The judge sentenced Tennant to time already served, three years of supervised release, and a $10,000 fine.

• Safeway announced that it is now offering walk-up flu shots, nasal mist and high-dose flu vaccines at more than 1,100 Safeway, Vons/Pavilions, Carrs, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s and Tom Thumb/Randalls stores with pharmacies across the country.

• The Associated Press reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “wants to revise the nutrition facts label—that breakdown of fats, salts, sugars and nutrients on packaging—to give consumers more useful information and help fight the national obesity epidemic.

“A proposal is in the works to change several parts of the label, including more accurate serving sizes, a greater emphasis on calories and a diminished role in the daily percent values for substances like fat, sodium and carbohydrates.”
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