SAN DIEGO – The United Fresh Produce Association shattered its goal of donating 350 salad bars to schools in California when it announced that 436 schools would receive salad bars as a result of a passionate fundraising effort by key members of the association.
United Fresh revealed the final number during a May 15 press conference prior to the opening day of the trade show. The standing-room-only crowd was evidence of the importance of the initiative,which seeks to provide more fresh fruits and vegetables to schoolchildren as a way to improve their health
Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition for United Fresh, said that the Let’s Move Salad Bars to California Schools initiative would benefit the 436 schools located in 71 districts throughout the state. She said that as many as 300,000 students were expected to benefit from the effort.
“This has been a labor of passion and love,” she said. “This is truly a landmark event.”
She added that the California co-chairs of the initiative – Dan’l Mackey Almy of DMA Solutions, Karen Caplan of Frieda’s, Dick Spezzano of Spezzano Consulting, Margaret D’Arrigo Martin of Taylor Farms and Lisa McNeece of Grimmway Farms – were instrumental is the success of the effort.
“This remarkable donation of salad bars to 436 California schools truly demonstrates the power of public-private partnerships to improve child nutrition,” Tom Stenzel, chief executive officer of United Fresh, said in a press release issued after the press conference. “Produce industry leaders, businesses, and foundations all came together to support increasing children’s fresh fruit and vegetable consumption. These salad bars will transform school cafeterias and help 300,000 students develop healthier eating habits that will last a lifetime.”
School foodservice directors from 37 of those districts attended the event and were recognized as “salad bar superstars” and leaders on the front line in increasing children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
“When our students aren’t healthy, they are less likely to be in class and learning,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who spearheads TEAM California for Healthy Kids, added in the press release. “With Team California for Healthy Kids, we are working to ensure our kids have access to nutritious food, clean water and physical exercise – so that the right choices are easy choices. That’s why I applaud the effort to make fresh fruits and vegetables available right in the lunchroom.”
To date, more than 2,500 salad bars have been donated to schools across the country.
BI-LO Holding, parent company of BI-LO and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, announced a long-term agreement under which Keene, NH-based C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. will provide warehouse, transportation and most procurement services for all 480 Winn-Dixie stores and continue providing services to all 206 BI-LO stores.
“We believe this deal will allow us to leverage the experience and buying power of C&S so that we can continue to reinvest in our company and focus on selling great products at a good value to our customers,” Randall Onstead, president and chief executive officer of BI-LO Holding, said in a press release.
By the end of the year, Winn-Dixie’s six distribution centers – located in Baldwin, Jacksonville, Miami and Orlando, FL, Montgomery, AL, and Hammond, LA – and the functions that support them, will be transitioned. C&S intends to operate the facilities as they are today, with minimal change to existing associates or their wages and benefits, according to the release. As each distribution center is transitioned over to C&S, associates of the distribution centers will become employees of C&S.
“We thank our Winn-Dixie distribution center associates for their contributions over the years,” Mr. Onstead said in the release. “While we are saying goodbye to them as part of the Winn-Dixie family, we are very pleased that this transition provides them with continued employment. In addition, they will provide C&S with the knowledge and experience needed for a smooth transition."
“C&S is very excited about extending its eight-year relationship with BI-LO to include the Winn-Dixie stores and to further extending our presence in the South. We are proud to be a part of the ongoing transformation of the BI-LO Winn-Dixie business and look forward to welcoming the many Winn-Dixie associates to the C&S family,” Rick Cohen, C&S chairman and CEO, said in the release.
C&S has provided procurement, warehouse and transportation services for BI-LO LLC since 2005. The new agreement covers both the BI-LO and Winn-Dixie banners across the companywide network of nearly 700 stores.
Old signs have come down and new “Schnucks” signs have gone up on the exterior of both the Logli Rockton and Hilander Cherry Valley stores, signaling the launch of the renaming for all 11 Logli and Hilander stores across the Rockford, IL, area and in Janesville, WI.
“It has always been our belief that no matter what name is on the outside, inside all of our stores operate with the same focus on customers and emphasis on quality, value and service,” Schnucks Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Scott Schnuck said in a press release. “However, unifying our stores under one banner, our family name, is an acknowledgement to our teammates and customers of our commitment to the Rockford and Janesville communities.”
Rockford and Janesville are the only regions in which Schnucks stores operate under different names.
“When we acquired the family-owned Logli stores in 1998, Logli was the name everyone knew and loved,” said Mr. Schnuck. “We decided not to change the name until more area customers got a chance to know Schnucks and what we stand for as a family and as a company.”
Schnucks Division Manager Dennis Canada said, “Operating under one name and one logo helps to give our 1,300 Rockford teammates a shared identity. We are proud of how well Logli and Hilander teammates have joined together in service to our customers and we are excited about what that type of synergy means for our future. It will be exciting to see the pride that’s building inside our stores, reflected on the outside as well.”
“Speaking for my entire family, when we put our name on something, you can bet it’s something we are proud of and want to share with others,” Mr. Schnuck said in the press release. “From the stores we operate to our private brand foods, putting the Schnucks name on it is not just business, its family.”
The New England Produce Council held its Sunny Valley International-sponsored dinner meeting May 8 at Embassy Suites Boston/Waltham. This was the ninth consecutive year that Sunny Valley has sponsored the meeting, and this year's theme was Monte Carlo. “It was an outstanding success," said Laura Sullivan, NEPC executive director.
Bonnie Lundblad, sales representative for Sunny Valley, which is headquartered in Glassboro, NJ, told The Produce News that Francisco Allende, vice president of the company, comes upwith the theme ideas every year. Ms. Lundblad has worked for the company for about 20 years, and she always looks forward to working on the meeting committee with Mr. Allende.
"We printed up some 'funny money' that read 'In Sunny Valley We Trust,' and everyone got $2,000 when they walked in the door to exchange for gambling chips," said Ms. Lundblad. "Prizes included two 'iPad mini' tablets and restaurant gift certificates for the restaurant of the winners' choice."
She added that Mr. Allende always comes up with a fun and unique theme for the meeting. From 2006 to 2009, Sunny Valley sponsored the meeting at Fenway Park in Boston.
"Those dinner meetings were also a lot of fun," said Ms. Lundblad. "Instead of a plated sit-down dinner, we served 'Fenway' franks, pulled pork sandwiches, popcorn and other typical ballpark fare. The meeting area overlooked the ballpark, and we were treated to a tour of the facility every year that we were there."
Other dinner meetings sponsored by Sunny Valley, which are the last dinner meeting on its academic year calendar, have included comedians and other entertainers.
Ms. Sullivan emphasized the generosity that Sunny Valley and its growers demonstrated through its donation of $6,400 to the "One Boston Fund," which benefits victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
The donation was collectively donated by Sunny Valley, Big Buck Farms, Eastern Propak, Gala Farms, Glossy Fruit Farms, Jersey Fruit, JSM Blueberries, Larchmont Farms, LoSasso Farms, Stoney Creek Blueberries, William Cappuccio & Sons Farm, Whalen Farms, Clark Farms and Mill Rock Farms.
"The presentation of the donation was very touching and thoughtful," said Ms. Sullivan. "Sunny Valley has been a faithful supporter of the NEPC for many years, and we are very thankful to them for their dedication and their vision of what makes an outstanding annual event.
"At the end of our year we draw for our annual 'Boston to Bermuda' cruise," she continued. "We collect name badges from members at all of our meetings throughout the year, and at the end of the year dinner meeting we draw from that pile. This year Bob Cantinella with U.S.A. Pears won the drawing. I'm sure it made a very nice Mother's Day gift to his wife."
Ms. Sullivan noted that the NEPC's annual golf tournament is scheduled for July 30 at the Red Tail Golf Club in Devens, MA.
"The tournament helps to support our scholarship fund," she noted.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's agricultural marketing service appointed Anne L. Alonzo as the new administrator for the agency.
In her new position, Ms. Alonzo will be responsible for the oversight of AMS policies and programs that facilitate the efficient, fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products, including food, fiber and specialty crops.
Ms. Alonzo brings a unique perspective and diverse background to USDA. Her experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors makes her the perfect choice to lead a multi-faceted agency like AMS.
As vice president of global public policy, Ms. Alonzo led all of Kraft Foods’ global corporate affairs work in the areas of sustainability, tariffs, tax and trade, and health and wellness. She also directed its global issues management team. During this time, Ms. Alonzo was elected chair of the World Cocoa Foundation, a membership organization focused on creating a sustainable cocoa economy and improving the lives of cocoa-farming communities worldwide.
During her career, she has played an important role in trade policy, food and agriculture, as well as sustainability. According to a USDA press release, her noteworthy career exemplifies leadership and service to the United States and the Latino community.
Ms. Alonzo previously served as senior vice president at the National Foreign Trade Council, where she was actively involved in the passage of the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement, deputy assistant secretary at the International Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Ms. Alonzo was also selected as this nation's first environmental attaché and assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, where she was a key player in the North America Free Trade Agreement negotiations. She began her career as an environmental counsel at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region V, Chicago, IL.
Ms. Alonzo earned her MBA and JD from the University of Chicago, and the Illinois Institute of Technology, Kent College of Law, respectively. An Illinois native, she grew up in Chicago's Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods.