October 29, 2009

In Today's Issue:

Obama Administration Outlines Priorities for Child Nutrition

This week, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack previewed the Obama Administration's legislative priorities for reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act on a national conference call. One of the top priorities highlighted was improving the quality of school meals and the healthfulness of the school environment, underscoring that more fruits and vegetables should be served to American school children.

Secretary Vilsack also noted that children are eating far less than the recommended daily amounts of dark green and dark orange vegetables and fruits and whole grains. This deficiency - underscored by the recent report by the Institute of Medicine, entitled School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children - puts children at increased risk for a variety of obesity-related conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and high blood pressure.

"The potential for the produce industry is significant," said United Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra. "Adding one to two more servings of fruits and vegetables to 31 million school lunches everyday will create many new business opportunities for produce and significantly benefit children's health. United Fresh is leading the initiative on Capitol Hill and with the Obama Administration to ensure that these recommendations become a reality and that more fresh fruits and vegetables are served. We are also working closely with Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Adam Putnam (R-FL) on the Children’s Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009."

For more information about United’s work on child nutrition, please contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400 ext. 403.

United Fresh Hosts NANA Coalition Meeting

United's Dr. Lorelei DiSogra (center) leads Wednesday's meeting of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity at United's Washington headquarters.

United Fresh hosted more than 30 members of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) Wednesday for a coalition meeting to discuss current policy priorities for child nutrition, wellness and obesity prevention, WIC and physical activity.

"With health care reform on Capitol Hill right now and Congress poised to start the child nutrition reauthorization as soon as health care is finished, there are a lot of legislative issues with which the NANA coalition is engaged," said United Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra. "Although we don't yet know exactly what the final public health and obesity prevention funding and provisions will be in health care reform, a public health trust fund for prevention will undoubtedly focus on improving diet and boosting fruit and vegetable consumption.  Increasing the public's fruit and vegetable consumption is also a major focus of community prevention grants that were funded through the Stimulus Bill."

For more information on NANA or child nutrition, please contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400 ext. 403.

AMS Announces $49 Million in New Specialty Crop Block Grant Awards

USDAAMSOn October 15, USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) announced the fiscal year 2009 Specialty Crop Block Grant - Farm Bill (SCBGP-FB) awards, which included $49 million to fund 745 projects.  Grants are provided to state departments of agriculture within the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

States are directed to fund projects that will "enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops" within their jurisdiction.  The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program was authorized with mandatory funds in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill).    

Testifying at a hearing this week before the House Committee on Agriculture's Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture, AMS Administrator Rayne Pegg mentioned that next month, AMS will announce the availability of funding for the FY 2010 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and that FY 2010 applications will be due in June 2010.  The hearing, held by subcommittee Chairman Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), discussed the implementation of the Farm Bill's horticulture title, including questions regarding the most recent allocation of block grant funds.  

For more information about the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, visit the AMS website, and for a full list of the funded projects, click here.

United Conducts Real-World Recall Training in Florida

Recall Training
A breakout group springs into action during a mock recall at this week's Training for a Recall, Communicating Under Fire course in West Palm Beach, Fla.

This week, more than 30 industry members from 11 states participated in United’s recall training seminar, Training for a Recall - Communicating Under Fire, held in West Palm Beach, Fla. The 2-day event, the seventh held since the first course in November 2007, provided valuable information for managing recall situations from technical, regulatory, public health and communications perspectives.

The seminar put participants through practice drills, including a mock recall situation, to give them practice for dealing with a real crisis.

United staff, Dr. David Gombas, Ray Gilmer and Victoria Backer helped lead the training. Additionally, David Durkin of United's legal counsel gave important advice for knowing your rights and obligations in a potential recall situation, along with insights into food safety legislation currently in Congress.

Two staff members from FDA Florida offices also gave presentations to the group and shared experiences from real-world recalls.

Following the recall training, several participants stayed for the optional media training sessions, which offered in-depth advice for communicating with news media in recall situations. Mock television interviews, based on hypothetical recall scenarios, gave participants a chance to test their spokesperson skills in front of a camera.

"There's no time to prepare for a recall when you're in the middle of one, so this training provides the roadmap for readiness should a recall occur,' said Gilmer, vice president of communications. "There's no better investment you can make in preparation for a recall."

The recall training was made possible by a generous sponsorship from Syngenta. United appreciates Syngenta's ongoing support of the recall training program. Information on the 2010 recall courses will be available in the coming months.

United Members Announce World Series Wager to Benefit Hungry

World Series
United Policy and Grassroots Coordinator and Queens, New York-native Andrew Marshall (left) and Membership Director and Cherry Hill, N.J.-native Miriam Miller bring the World Series rivalry to United Fresh.

As two of the most storied franchises in baseball meet in the World Series this week, the fever pitch has spilled over into the world of fresh produce.

Representatives of New York's Hunts Point Terminal Market and the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market have placed a friendly wager on the outcome of this year’s Fall Classic between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies, which started yesterday at Yankees Stadium with a 6-1 Phillies win.

If the Phillies win the series, Hunts Point must donate one truckload of local produce to Philabundance, Philadelphia's local food bank. However, if the Yankees win, the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market will make the same donation to the Food Bank for New York City. One truckload contains more than ten tons of produce. Sweetening the deal, some in the losing market must don the winning team's jersey while loading the truck.

Matthew D'Arrigo, President of Hunts Point and John Vena, head of the marketing committee for the Philadelphia Regional Produce Market, sit together on United’s Wholesaler-Distributor Market Segment Board.

Each year a total of approximately eight million pounds of food is donated by both produce markets to feed those in need. Organizations that have received the help are New York’s City Harvest Inc.; Food Bank for New York City; Philabundance; and various schools, food pantries, shelters, and non-profits.

United Names Hilleary New CFO

United Fresh has announced the hiring of new Chief Financial Officer Dan Hilleary.  Dan joins United from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, where he held the same title. He also has served in finance and accounting roles at the American Chamber of Commerce Executives association, Gifts In Kind International, and the International Association of Food Industry Suppliers.  Dan holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from Georgetown University in Washington and a Master of Business Administration from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. A D.C. native, Dan lives in Warrenton, Va. Dan can be reached at 202-303-3400 ext. 419, or dhilleary@unitedfresh.org.

New Member Welcome

Each week, United Fresh welcomes its newest partners in building a stronger produce industry:

  • First Fruits Marketing of Washington, Yakima, Wash.
  • Plant and Food Research, Davis, Calif.
United Fresh thanks all current members for their dedication to the Association and the produce industry. Please let us know whenever we can be of service to you. For more details about the benefits of membership, please contact Jeff Oberman at 831-422-0940 or Miriam Miller at 202-303-3410.

Upcoming United Fresh Events
Upcoming Events

News & Views


News and Views

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Agri-tainment offers fun on the farm in Oregon

100 farmworkers protest low price of tomatoes


Indian advertisers' tall claims get short shrift

Mexican ag official says dealers could teach farmers

Australia, NZ to review burden of food labelling laws

European School Fruit Scheme, budget increasing

Ecuador to set up banana export group

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