August 5, 2010

In Today's Issue:

BREAKING NEWS: Senate Passes Child Nutrition Bill

Senate Ag Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln, flanked by Ag Committee members and D.C.-area children, host a Child Nutrition Rally in the Senate last week. United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra (upper right, with United Fresh sign) attended the rally in support.

By unanimous consent, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (S. 3307)passed the U.S. Senate this afternoon, receiving accolades from the United Fresh Produce Association. S. 3307 will "... expand access to the child nutrition programs to reduce childhood hunger, improve the nutritional quality of school meals to promote health and address childhood obesity ..." The bill's passage comes just days before the Senate adjourns for the August recess.

"The drive for healthier kids through increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is something that United Fresh and the entire produce industry has pursued for many years now," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "United Fresh commends Chairman Lincoln, Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss and the Senate Agriculture Committee and members of the Senate for their passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This bill provides a clear road map for healthier school meals and greater access to fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables."

Last Thursday, Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and 5 other senators, along with more than 200 advocates including children dressed as fresh fruits and vegetables, staged a Child Nutrition Rally in the Senate to urge swift passage of the bill. Joining Senator Lincoln at the Rally were Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thomas Carper (D-DE) along with officials from the American Academy of Pediatrics and National PTA.

United Fresh and other nutrition advocates had been on Capitol Hill most of the week rallying support for passage of the bill. The Senate's passage of the bill now puts pressure on the House to either pass their version of the bill, (H.R.5504) or approve the Senate bill. All child nutrition programs expire on September 30, 2010 so there is great urgency for Congress to send a new Child Nutrition Act to the President for his signature before the end of September.

DiSogra Speaks at Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program Workshop in Little Rock

United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra made a stop in Little Rock, Ark. last week, giving a keynote presentation to more than 90 schools participating in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (FFVP) this school year.

DiSogra's presentation highlighted the FFVP's benefits to students, schools, families, public health, and agriculture and illustrated how the FFVP is now a global strategy for improving child nutrition. DiSogra emphasized that the FFVP is the only child nutrition program that provides schools with adequate financial resources to serve fresh fruits and vegetables and the importance of maintaining "fresh" in the FFVP.

About 200 school principals, teachers, school nurses and food service directors attended the workshop which was sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Education's Child Nutrition Unit. While in Little Rock, Dr. DiSogra also met with state child nutrition and public health officials and nutrition advocates.

For the 2010-11 school year, the funding for the FFVP is $110 million which will benefit students in over 4,000 elementary schools nation-wide. Arkansas received $1.6 million to operate the FFVP in 90 schools. The goal of the FFVP is to provide young students with a fresh fruit or vegetable snack every day at school. For information about participating schools in each state, please contact DiSogra at 202-303-3400, ext. 403.      

California Strawberry Industry Turns Out for United Fresh Town Hall

United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel addresses gathered members of the California strawberry industry during a town hall meeting in Watsonville, Calif. last week.

Cindy Jewell, California Giant Berry Farms, makes a point during the Town Hall

United Fresh Chairman Steffanie Smith

Ed Kelly, Colleen Strawberries, and Karen Miller, Clint Miller Farms

Nutrition policy, food safety, audit harmonization, immigration reform, traceability and other critical issues facing the strawberry industry were up for discussion last week, as United Fresh Chairman Steffanie Smith and President Tom Stenzel hosted a Town Hall meeting for the California strawberry industry in Watsonville, Calif.

Thanks to California Strawberry Commission President Mark Murai for joining United in hosting the meeting.

"The town hall format really allows members to have a candid discussion on matters that affect their companies, and also affect the entire produce industry," said Stenzel.  "We're all indeed fortunate that our elected leaders like Steffanie and Commission Chairman Bill Reiman took the time to meet with our members and address these issues. We had a great turn-out and discussion, and I know this will help Mark and me as we work together to serve our mutual members."

For more information about future town halls, contact United Fresh Vice President of Membership Jeff Oberman at 831-422-0940.

Industry Mourns the Passing of Jack Pandol, Sr.

United Fresh and the entire produce industry mourns the loss of Pandol Bros. Chairman Emeritus Jack Pandol, Sr., who died at his home in Delano, Calif., Wednesday at age 87.

"Our deepest condolences go out to Jack's family and friends," said United Fresh President Tom Stenzel. "He was surely a pioneer in our industry and will be greatly missed."

A California native and World War II Purple Heart recipient, Pandol was regarded as a trailblazer in the produce industry, being among the first to sell directly to retailers, utilize refrigerated trucks and incorporate internet technologies into his business. Additionally, Pandol was a leading voice in establishing trade relationships in Asia and Latin America, beginning with the expansion of imports from Chile, providing year-round supply of fresh fruit in North America. For his work in expanding the Chilean industry, Pandol was awarded the Bernando O’Higgins Award in 2009 by President Michelle Bachelet, the highest honor given by the country to a foreign citizen.

Service Schedule:

Viewing Visitation
Tuesday, August 10th from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Delano Mortuary
707 Browning Road
Delano, CA 93215

Funeral Mass
Wednesday, August 11th at 10 a.m.
St. Francis Church
900 H Street
Bakersfield, CA 93304

Immediately following the Funeral Mass
Stockdale Country Club
7001 Stockdale Hwy
Bakersfield, CA 93309 

Donations may be made to Boy Scouts of America, Southern Sierra Division, All Slavonic-American Association, Hoffman Hospice or the charity of your choice.

United Fresh Organizes Webinar to Address Proposed USDA Changes to PACA Trust Regulation

Although the comment period for the June 8 proposed rule on trust protections associated with the Perishable Agriculture Commodities Act (PACA) is scheduled to close next Monday, United Fresh anticipates USDA will extend the comment period to provide industry with additional time to weigh in. Specifically, the proposed rule addresses post-default agreements on trust protection eligibility, which have been the subject of recent court decisions. 

United Fresh has organized a webinar, scheduled for Wednesday, August 18 from 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. EDT, to provide background on why USDA is proposing to amend the current regulations, as well as discuss the implications of the proposed rule.

In July, United Fresh, along 19 allied organizations serving on United's Government Relations Council, submitted a letter to USDA asking for the comment period to be extended given the rule's potential to impact businesses practices.  For background information on the proposed PACA Trust Regulation, see the United Fresh briefing paper.

To participate in the August 18 webinar, please click here, and enter the following information:

Call in:  (866) 779-0773  
Meeting #: 3033409

For additional information about the proposed rule, please contact Robert Guenther, United Fresh, senior vice president, public policy.  For information about the webinar, contact Andrew Marshall, policy and grassroots coordinator. Both can be reached at 202-303-3400.

Rutgers, IFT Honor United's Gombas

Dr. David Gombas, United's senior vice president of food safety and technology, was honored by Rutgers University and the Institute of Food Technologists last month with the Distinguished Leadership Award. The award is given annually by the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Department of Food Science in recognition of outstanding leadership in the field of food safety and technology.

The award was presented during the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists last month in Chicago, Ill.

Fruits and Vegetables are the Center of Attention at the Annual Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill

One of the most talked-about events on Capitol Hill is right around the corner. The Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill will take place Wednesday September 15th from 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. in the Longworth House Office Building in Washington.

The event represents the industry's annual opportunity to bring fresh fruits and vegetables direct to the doorsteps of Congress. Immediately prior, attendees to United’s Washington Public Policy Conference will meet with FDA officials and numerous congressional offices during the Afternoon of Advocacy.

Exhibitors at Fresh Festival represent produce companies, commodity commissions and state departments of agriculture, and exhibitors have the chance to educate members of Congress and congressional staff about their products, while portraying the industry in a positive light on Capitol Hill. 

"The Fresh Festival provides a great opportunity for exhibitors to share samples of their products and get those on Capitol Hill excited about eating fruits and vegetables," said Andrew Marshall, United's policy and grassroots coordinator."It's an opportunity to have the attention of Capitol Hill focused on eating, and sampling tasty fruits and vegetables."

For information about exhibiting at the Fresh Festival on Capitol Hill, contact Marshall at 202-303-3407.

No States Meet CDC Obesity Goals

According to a new report from the CDC, obesity is common, serious and costly, and now affects every state. No state met the country's Healthy People 2010 goal to lower obesity to 15 percent. The report also makes recommendations on how to reverse the epidemic.

The CDC Vital Signs report, titled "State-Specific Obesity Prevalence Among Adults - United States, 2009," points out that people who are obese incurred $1,429 per person extra in medical costs compared to people of normal weight, and that the nation's total medical costs of obesity were $147 billion in 2008.

New data shows that nine states had an obesity rate of 30 percent or higher in 2009. In comparison, no state had an obesity rate of 30 percent or more in 2000, and only three states reached the 30 percent mark in 2007.

Obesity affects some communities more than others. The highest rates were found among non-Hispanic blacks overall, whose rate was 36.8%, and non-Hispanic black women, whose rate was 41.9%.  The rate for Hispanics was 30.7%, and the rate among all non-high school graduates was 32.9%. In addition, the obesity rate was higher in some regions of the country than others.  Midwesterners had a rate of 28.2% and residents of the South were at 28.4%.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Green Thumb Produce, Inc., Banning, CA
  • Tiffany Gate Fine Foods, Toronto, ON

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.

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