By Rachel Gross
Whole Foods market has always had a wide array of kosher items from snacks, to cheese, lox, vitamins, wine and much more. Through a new partnership with Dallas Kosher, it is expanding its offerings for the community.
The partnership is underway with the Preston Forest location in North Dallas, which is in a heavily Jewish area at the border of the South eruv. There are now blue labels around the store signifying which products are kosher. In addition, there is an assortment of kosher pre-sliced fruits and vegetables and fresh juice.
Store Team Leader Russell Husted, who recently took on this position, said part of his plan is to highlight the kosher products.
“We wanted to reach out to the community the best we could,” he said. “We have a lot of Jewish guests and I wanted to make sure this would be a one-stop shop for them. The blue kosher labels are part of our marketing strategy. We wanted to highlight not only the products that are kosher, but also put our standards in place, which are value and not having fats or preservatives in our food.”
And there is much more this location plans to do, Husted said. In addition to the Whole Foods 365 brand that’s already kosher, he hopes to soon have a kosher coffee bar, along with getting prepackaged poultry and meat products, challah and an expanded bakery. They would also like to host different kosher events at the store.
Husted believes there is potential in many areas and is excited to work with Dallas Kosher to continue developing the kosher market. This location is the only one in the region currently working with Dallas Kosher in this way.
Dallas Kosher board member Carole Wolanow helped champion this partnership. She said she is pleased with how quickly everything has come to fruition, along with the willingness of Husted and the rest of the team to make it happen.
“I will do more shopping there now because of the relationship with the management,” she said. “They have bent over backward and are so excited about the partnership; they are proud of what they have done. This is such big news for the community. It’s been a real blessing and mitzvah for me to step forward and help with this. Even with all of the kosher food that’s been there for a while, it’s been a secret and that secret is now out of the box.”
Education has been a vital part of this entire process too, according to Miranda Winer, executive director of Dallas Kosher. There were training sessions with the Whole Foods staff and Dallas Kosher rabbis, a standard operating procedure was developed to inform the team and new equipment was purchased so the kosher fruits and vegetables can be prepared on-site.
All of the Whole Foods staff members are equipped with Dallas Kosher symbol cards so they can help customers in that area when needed.
“It’s all about intention at Whole Foods. The shoppers are intentional and come to Whole Foods for a reason,” Winer said. “Kosher is all about intention too, so that’s why this is such a good matchup. This store is definitely unique. This partnership is useful for this store because they are in the Jewish neighborhood and for our kosher consumers, this is a very central location. This is an incredible partnership and the staff at this store has been so willing and excited to do this. There is a real buzz.”
Winer said this is the beginning of something very exciting for Whole Foods and the entire Jewish community. She is looking forward to seeing what else can be done.
Both Winer and Husted have received positive feedback from people about the changes. Listening to the community is part of what has made this partnership so successful from the beginning, Husted said, and is what will continue to elevate Whole Foods’ service.
According to Husted, serving customers is the ultimate goal and assisting the Jewish community in this way is an added bonus.
“This partnership with Dallas Kosher is what sets us apart and makes us special,” Husted added. “As the competition has tried to catch up with us, we have always tried new and innovative ways to stay on top and this is another way we will continue to do that. We want to give the best service we can and this is that step in the right direction. We are very excited about this and so is the Jewish community. That’s what makes this partnership such a good fit.”