December 3, 2009

In Today's Issue:

Briefings Highlight Role of Salad Bars in Improving Child Nutrition

Congressional Briefing
Rep. Sam Farr and Dr. Esperanza Zendejas during Thursday's congressional briefing.

On Capitol Hill today, United Fresh hosted congressional briefings on the Benefits of School Salad Bars in both the House and Senate.  Congressmen Sam Farr (D-CA) and Karen Williams, chief of staff for Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) spoke at the House briefing about the importance of improving child nutrition and their Children's Fruit and Vegetable Act of 2009, which will be introduced soon. Panelists presented findings from school-based research studies, discussed specifically how salad bars boost fruit and vegetable consumption and called on Congress to support policy changes in the 2010 Child Nutrition Act that would increase funding for school meals so schools could offer more salad bars and other fresh fruits and vegetables.

Dr. Wendy Slusser, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at UCLA's Mattel Children’s Hospital and Dr. Harvinder Sareen, director of clinical programs at Anthem Blue Cross, highlighted results from salad bar studies conducted in Los Angeles schools. They noted that school salad bars increase student consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and reduce consumption of energy-dense foods. Their research led to a policy that the school district should provide the equipment for Fruit/Vegetable Bars in all Los Angeles schools; today over 60 LA schools have Fruit/Vegetable Bars. Both researchers called for a policy to promote salad bars to schools nationally. Emphasizing that children's eating habits would improve if all schools had salad bars, they also called for continued federal funding so schools could purchase refrigeration, salad bars, and other cafeteria equipment that will help them serve healthier meals. 

Dr. Esperanza Zendejas, Superintendent at Alisal Union School District, in Salinas, CA, and a pioneer in placing salad bars in elementary schools all over the country since 1988, noted that all 11 of her elementary schools have salad bars.  She spoke about watching her young students enjoy a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and the powerful impact salad bars have on improving the entire school food environment.

Linda Moore, founder of the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. and recipient of the salad bar donated by United Fresh Produce Association in September, noted the incredible response of her students, how they flock to the salad bar at lunch and are now choosing to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Paris Jones, Student Government President and 6th grader at Stokes, reported that students rush to be the first in line at the salad bar and are now eating more fruits and vegetables and eating less unhealthy foods. She called on Congress to provide a salad bar for every school!  

In early 2010, Congress will reauthorize all child nutrition programs. This briefing put the spotlight on the importance of salad bars and urged Congress to support schools so they can provide more fresh fruits and vegetables at school meals. Following the briefings the panelist met with their members of Congress and with officials at USDA.  United Fresh was honored to host the briefing and to have these distinguished experts travel to Washington, D.C. to advocate so strongly for United Fresh’s child nutrition policy priorities.

For more information, please contact United Fresh Vice President for Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

DiSogra, Congressman Obey Staff and Advocates Observe Fruit and Vegetable Program in Wisconsin

Doug Hill, District Director for Congressman David Obey, accompanies school officials as they deliver snack to classrooms.

United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra and Doug Hill, district director for House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI), visited James Madison Elementary School in Stevens Point, Wisc. to visit the school's  Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (FFVP). In its second year of implementing the FFVP, James Madison provides all 410 students in grades K-6 with fresh fruit and vegetable snacks every school day.

"During our visit," said Dr. DiSogra, "James Madison served a variety of bell peppers - green, orange and red. The students were very excited and clearly in love with the bright, colorful peppers, telling us that each color had a different flavor. It was amazing - at 10 in the morning, the kids were eating and loving bell peppers!"

James Madison students went on to tell members of the group how much they looked forward to the daily snack and about the wide variety of new fresh fruits and vegetables they had been introduced to through the FFVP.

Students help themselves to bell pepper strips at their morning snack.

James Madison has a long commitment to improving the eating habits of every student, starting with a "Fruit-On-A-Cart" pilot program three years ago funded by a Hunger and Poverty Prevention Grant.  After the program saw positive results, several James Madison teachers took the lead in applying to the state for funding for the FFVP. The school receives about $21,000/year through the state to fund the FFVP and a local Stevens Point Kwik Trip store provides almost all of the fresh fruits and vegetables.

Already this school year, James Madison students have enjoyed blueberries, strawberries, oranges, apples, kiwi, pears, peaches, bananas, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, grapes, pepper sticks, jicama, sweet potato sticks, pineapple and melons.

Principal Mary Jo Lechner noted that the students at James Madison have definitely increased their fruit and vegetable consumption as a direct result of the FFVP and that they had surprised even themselves with the variety of fruits and vegetables they now enjoy.

After the visit, Dr. DiSogra, along with Luke Rollins, director of state advocacy for the American Heart Association and Wisconsin state health and education officials provided Hill with information about the number of schools in the state applying for funding for the FFVP, as well as the number of schools receiving funds for new cafeteria equipment through the federal stimulus package. Last year, Wisconsin had twice as many schools applying for the FFVP than the state was able to fund and only 15% of the applications the state received for cafeteria equipment were funded.

The visit was part of United Fresh's ongoing commitment to take members of Congress and their staffers to visit schools participating in the FFVP, as well as schools with salad bars. Hill promised to bring Congressman Obey back to visit the school and see its success first-hand in the near future.

Dr. DiSogra was in Stevens Point to speak on child nutrition policy before the Wisconsin Action for Health Kids Summit. In her address, Dr. DiSogra urged attendees to support United's child nutrition priorities and engage in advocacy with Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. "You build political will one member of Congress at a time!" she said.

United Fresh thanks Luke Rollins and the Wisconsin American Heart Association, as well as the Wisconsin Departments of Health and Public Instruction for the opportunity to visit James Madison and speak before the Summit. For more information on United's child nutrition priorities, please contact Dr. DiSogra at 202 303-3400.

USDA to Purchase $5M of Fresh-Cut Sliced Apples for Schools

USDAThis week, USDA announced its intention to purchase 3.5 million pounds of fresh-cut sliced apples for schools in 10 states. The total value of the purchase is estimated at $5 million. Concurrently, USDA issued the invitation to bid on Nov 30 with offers due on December 17. 

"Fresh-cut sliced apples are extremely popular with school children," said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health.

The 28 million 2-ounce packages of fresh-cut sliced apples purchased by USDA will be used in school lunch programs in California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin. Deliveries to schools will be made from Dec 26, 2009 to June 30, 2010.

Echoing increasing school demand and student popularity, United Fresh has advocated for several years that USDA purchase significantly more fresh-cut fruits and vegetables for students.

"It is our goal to see fresh-cut sliced apples and baby carrots available for all schools by next school-year," continued Dr. DiSogra. "We are committed to working with USDA and with Congress to accomplish this goal."

This purchase expands on the fresh-cut sliced apple pilot conducted in five states last spring. Specific information about the invitation to bid can be found by clicking here. For more information on United's extensive work on child nutrition, contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

California Leads the Way With More Produce for WIC Moms

WICStarting December 7, all mothers receiving vouchers through the California WIC program will receive $10 worth of fruits and vegetables each month, representing a two-dollar increase in value from the old vouchers. With the roll-out, California becomes one of the first states in the country to implement the two-dollar increase, which became law with the enactment of the FY’10 Agricultural Appropriations Bill.

United Fresh, along with the National WIC Association and Food Research and Action Center advocated for the increase. The policy change is especially impactful in California, which has the nation's largest WIC program. In the state, the increase in value of the WIC vouchers will translate into an additional $5.3 million in fruit and vegetable purchases by WIC families this fiscal year.

State WIC agencies will be rolling out the increase nationwide over the next three to four months, translating to an additional $42 million in fruit and vegetable purchases.

United Fresh, along with its advocacy partners, is committed to continuing public policy efforts to increase the cash-value of the children's WIC fruit and vegetable voucher from the current $6 per month to $8 per month consistent with recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine.

For more information on the increase, contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

Awards to Honor Chefs Showcasing Fresh Produce

PEFA Winners
Produce in Excellence in Foodservice Award Winners.

This week, United Fresh announced the opening of nominations for to honor the foodservice industry's most innovative produce performers through the United Fresh Research & Education Foundation's Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program. Generously supported by founding sponsor Pro*Act, LLC, the program is now entering its third year.

"Leading chefs at restaurants and foodservice operations around the country play such an important role in the fresh produce industry," said United Retail-Foodservice Board Vice-Chairman Mitch Smith, director, U.S. Quality Systems Agricultural Products for McDonald's Corporation. "Not only are they making great strides toward increasing consumption, they continue to innovate, creating new ways to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into their menus."

Winning chefs will be honored in each of five business categories: Fine Dining Restaurants, Casual and Family Dining Restaurants, Quick Serve Restaurants, Business in Industry & Colleges and Hotels & Healthcare Industry. Nominations must be submitted before February 1, 2010, and a nomination form is available online here.

Winners will be selected based on how nominees incorporate fresh produce into menu development, use protocols for correct storage and handling of produce, engage in community outreach and build an overall positive dining experience featuring fresh produce.  Winners will be selected by a panel of United Fresh member representatives focused on excellence in the foodservice sector. 

"In the foodservice business, the menu that a chef develops is at the heart of the dining experience," said Pro*Act Chief Operating Officer Max Yeater. "We are proud to support this program which honors chefs who make fresh produce an integral part of their menus."

PEFA Panel

The five winning chefs and their corporate executives will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to United Fresh 2010, April 20-23 in Las Vegas. The winners will be honored at the Annual Awards Banquet, Thursday evening, April 22. The chefs will also participate in the education program at United Fresh 2010 to share their views on produce trends in foodservice.

Last year's winners in each category were:

Fine Dining: Chef George Mavrothalassitis, Chef/Owner, Chef Mavro, Honolulu, Hawaii

Casual & Family Dining: Chef William Fuller, Corporate Chef, big Burrito Restaurant Group, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Quick Service: William "Woody" Faulk, Vice President of Brand Development; Shona Jonson, Sr. Manager of Menu Development and the entire Chick-fil-A Menu Development Team, Chick-fil-A, Inc., Atlanta, Ga.

Business in Industry & Colleges: Chef Glenn Pruden, CEC, Executive Chef/Assistant Director, University Dining, University of Richmond, Richmond, Va.

Hotels & Healthcare: Chef Miles McMath, CEC, Senior Executive Chef, Morrison Management Specialists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn.

For more information about the award program, please contact Miriam Miller, United Fresh director of membership at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

Standout Produce Managers to Take Center Stage at United Fresh 2010

Retail Produce Manager Winners
Retail Produce Manager Winners

The nation's top 25 retail produce managers will share the spotlight this spring at United Fresh 2010 as honorees in the United Fresh Retail Produce Manager Awards Program. Established in 2005 by founding sponsor Ready Pac Foods, Inc., the program will honors the best and brightest retail produce managers at the store level.

"Retail produce managers have such a huge responsibility within our industry," said Reggie Griffin, chairman of United's Retail-Foodservice and vice president of produce and floral merchandising and procurement for the Kroger Company. "They represent the front lines of the produce business and have a key opportunity for direct interaction with the consumer. Retail produce managers, through innovative displays, promotions and sheer creativity, have a direct and tangible effect on all of our bottom lines."

The 25 award winners and their corporate produce directors will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to United Fresh 2010. The winners will be honored at the annual United Fresh Awards Banquet on Thursday, April 22 where five grand prize winners will be announced as recipients of an additional $1,000 cash prize.

Retail Produce Manager Winners

"Retail produce managers can make a real difference to our consumers, our companies, and our industry," said Michael Solomon, president and CEO of Ready Pac Foods, Inc. "Ready Pac is very pleased to honor the best and brightest managers for the incredible work they do everyday on our industry's behalf, and we are proud to be the sponsor of the Retail Produce Manager Awards Program."

"The continual support from supermarket executives to honor their front-line produce staff has been tremendous," said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel.  "Every year senior retail executives attend the awards ceremony to show their support for their winners.  Great employees, empowered by their management, make a huge difference in store sales."

Nominations for the Retail Produce Manager Awards Program may be downloaded online and must be received by February 1, 2010. Click here for more information, including selection criteria and a list of winners since 2005 or contact Victoria Backer, United Fresh senior vice president, member services, foundation at or 202-303-3400 ext. 408.

The 2009 Retail Produce Manager Award winners included:

  • Richard Bixler, Brookshire Grocery Co., Sweetwater, TX
  • Fernando Bovadilla, Nob Hill Foods, Raley's Family of Fine Stores, Mountain View, CA
  • Elden Cave, Food Lion, LLC, Dobson, NC
  • Malinda Cleveland, Bashas' Dine' Market, Window Rock, AZ
  • Nan Day, NAS Lemoore Commissary, Lemoore, CA
  • Ronald Flosi, Jewel-Osco, Chicago, IL
  • Uziel Galvez, Safeway Stores, Inc., Hood River, OR
  • Humberto Gonzalez, Ralphs, Los Angeles, CA
  • Dustin Haney, Hy-Vee, Inc., Ankeny, IA
  • Robert Hewett, Raley's Family of Fine Stores, Ukiah, CA
  • Chris Hood, Brookshire Grocery Co., Tyler, TX
  • Greg Hurst, Vons, San Diego, CA
  • Ron Inatomi, Gelson's Market, Newport Beach, CA
  • Paula Lucas, Colemans Food Centre, Stephenville, NL, Canada
  • Jeff Mallory, Hy-Vee, Inc., Olathe, KS
  • Robert Oare, The Kroger Co., Mount Vernon, OH
  • Frank Owens, Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., Fairhope, AL
  • Lequitte Perry, Food City, Louisa, KY
  • Abraham Ramirez, Raley's Family of Fine Stores, Benicia, CA
  • Donald Rich, Price Chopper Supermarkets/Golub Corp., Burlington, VT
  • John Smith, Brookshire Grocery Co., Ruston, LA
  • George Tataris, Dominick’s, Park Ridge, IL
  • Scott Theisen, Blue Goose Market, St. Charles, IL
  • Timothy Tremblay, Hannaford Bros. Company, Scarborough, ME
  • Brett Warfield, Save Mart, Sonora, CA

Elimination of Estate Tax Burden Is a High Priority

United Fresh and a coalition of 90 other agricultural stakeholders joined together this week to solve the burden placed on agriculture by the current estate tax.

"The detrimental effect of this tax on family farming operations continues to grow," said United's Kam Quarles, United's vice president of government relations and legislative affairs. "Efforts to extend exemptions for farming operations are helpful, but not a long term solution to the problem."

Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA), as a member of the Ways and Means Committee holding jurisdiction over tax issues, has introduced the Family Farm Preservation and Conservation Estate Tax Act (H.R. 3524). This legislation seeks to remedy the issue for agriculture by excluding farm assets from the estate tax, so long as they remain in a family agricultural operation or conservation easement.

For more on H.R. 3524 and United's efforts on this issue, please contact Kam Quarles at 202-303-3400 ext. 427. 

FDA to Conduct Survey on Current Good Manufacturing Practices

FDAAs part of its effort to modernize the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) for processed foods FDA will send a survey to 2,700 randomly chosen domestic facilities early next week. The survey seeks information about key issues relevant to the food CGMP modernization effort, including the use of hazard analysis and critical control point and other food safety plans, risk-based preventive controls, employee training, sanitation, personal hygiene, allergen controls, process controls, post-production processing, supplier approval programs and recordkeeping.

Should a member facility receive an invitation to take part in the survey, United Fresh strongly encourages participation. Although voluntary, participation by each respondent is critical in assisting FDA in identifying cost-effective industry practices for the food CGMP modernization effort. The responses gathered in the survey will ensure that FDA has the most current information as it develops its food CGMP proposed rule.

For more information on the survey, please contact United Fresh Senior Vice President of Food Safety and Technology Dr. David Gombas at 202-303-3400.

United, PMA Collaborate to Launch Produce Traceability Initiative Survey

SurveyOne year after the Produce Traceability Initiative (PTI) Steering Committee unveiled its action plan to enhance the produce industry’s traceability capability, companies across the produce supply chain have the opportunity to share feedback via a new online survey. All industry members involved in the produce supply chain – from grower to retail and foodservice – are encouraged to participate in the online survey, which can be accessed at Conducted by United Fresh Produce Association and Produce Marketing Association (PMA), will help the PTI Steering Committee and administering associations assess PTI adoption to date and identify additional support needs.

"The associations developed this survey to collect feedback from the industry on PTI implementation," said Dan Vache, vice president of supply chain management at United Fresh. "We can use the data to help the industry meet future PTI milestones and thereby improve traceability across the entire supply chain."

The PTI, administered by Canadian Produce Marketing Association, PMA and United Fresh, is designed to help the industry maximize the effectiveness of current traceback procedures, while developing a standardized industry approach to enhance the speed and efficiency of future tracebacks. The PTI Action Plan, released in 2008, includes a series of seven traceability implementation milestones, with the final milestone to be implemented in 2012.

"Achieving standardized, whole-chain traceability is an important goal for the produce industry and the PTI provides a roadmap for reaching that goal in the most efficient way possible," said PMA Chief Science Officer Dr. Bob Whitaker.  "The survey will provide valuable feedback on the industry's educational and informational needs, and issues that may be impacting implementation."

Participation in the survey is anonymous and only aggregated data will be reported. The deadline for completing the survey is Jan. 4, 2010. Results from the PTI survey will be reported to the PTI Steering Committee and made publicly available via the PTI Web site within the first quarter of 2010.

For more information on the produce industry’s efforts toward whole-chain traceability, log on to

Chairman's Roundtable Thanks 2010 Supporters

United Fresh's Chairman's Roundtable provides extra support for programs in government relations, food safety, nutrition policy and other areas to help grow the produce industry. We are pleased to recognize the following companies who have committed to the 2010 Chairman's Roundtable:

  • Basin Gold Cooperative, Pasco, Wash.
  • Bonipak Produce Company, Santa Maria, Calif.
  • Horton Fruit Company, Louisville, Ky.
  • Liberty Fruit Co., Kansas City, Kan.
  • Potandon Produce, Idaho Falls, Idaho

The Chairman's Roundtable is an opportunity for United Fresh member companies to contribute above and beyond their basic dues. Roundtable members are industry leaders who set the pace in building United Fresh's strength in areas that do not generate their own revenue. Members of Chairman's Roundtable enjoy special recognition throughout the year for their support.  For more information on the Chairman’s Roundtable, please contact Director of Membership Miriam Miller at 202-303-3400 ext. 410.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Avocados from Mexico, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Interglobo, Genova, Italy

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

Florida ag commissioner candidate wants to make conservatism an issue in race

WTO agrees to rule on legality of U.S. food-labeling policies

NPR showcases late-night crews at Hunts Point Terminal Parket

South Carolina school district only one in nation to earn national food sanitation award

Sen. Lincoln says she can help farmers


Chinese parsley, spinach among foods that failed Hong Kong food safety tests

South Korea planning more R&D for food products

Canadian startup able to pinpoint bacteria in minutes

Managing the supply chain risk in Australia

Irish study finds a quarter of people ignore food labels

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