October 7, 2010

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh Names Dr. Barry Eisenberg VP of Food Safety Services

United Fresh has hired Dr. Barry A. Eisenberg, formerly head of technical services for River Ranch Fresh Foods, as its new vice president, food safety services.

"I'm thrilled that we're able to add such a well-respected industry leader to the United Fresh team," said United President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "Dr. Eisenberg's 25-year food safety career provides him a wealth of knowledge and expertise that will be highly valued in this new position designed to increase our direct support and assistance to United member companies."

In the new position of vice president, food safety services, Dr. Eisenberg will develop education programs, training and individualized expert support to help companies in their food safety planning, operations and compliance with best practices and regulatory standards.  Dr. Eisenberg's work directly supporting United members will complement the work of Dr. David Gombas, United's senior vice president, food safety and technology, in shaping overall government and industry food safety policies and best practices.

"Working together, Dave and Barry really provide our members a one-two punch to make sure that science-based rules prevail, whether in government policy or private sector audits, and then learn how to best incorporate food safety standards and practices in their own operations," Stenzel said.

The new position fills a need identified by the United Fresh Executive Committee to increase food safety support for member companies.

"As we evaluated the food safety demands on the association from our members during the past year, it became apparent that many companies look to our staff expertise for help in understanding and adopting best food safety practices," said United Fresh Chairman of the Board Steffanie Smith, CEO, River Point Farms.  "From local farms to global producers and marketers, companies large and small through every segment of the produce supply chain are facing numerous food safety challenges and looking for help. The addition of Dr. Eisenberg will greatly expand United's strength as the go-to resource not only in shaping food safety policy but for support in understanding and complying with food safety requirements."

Dr. Eisenberg received his Ph.D. in horticulture post-harvest physiology from the Ohio State University.  He began his career at the Campbell Soup Company in Camden, N.J., followed by an eight-year stint with Chiquita Brands as European director of quality and technical services. He then served as head of the Environmental Horticultural Sciences Department at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo before returning to the private sector working at Apio, Inc. and Growers Express. Most recently, Dr. Eisenberg coordinated quality assurance, food safety, research and product development, and process optimization programs for River Ranch Fresh Foods in the United States, Guatemala, Chile and Mexico.

He is a past member of the Board of Directors of United Fresh, having served as chairman of the United Fresh Food Safety and Technology Council. Most recently, he was chairman of the Grower Shipper Association of Central California’s Food Safety Council, a member of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Technical Committee and a member of scientific research review committees for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Center for Produce Safety.

Dr. Eisenberg will work from United's western regional office in the Grower-Shipper Building in Salinas, Calif., and spend significant time working with member companies around the globe. 

Final Push: United Fresh Hosts Coalition Meeting on How to Pass Child Nutrition in the Lame Duck Session

Nutrition advocates meet at United Fresh headquarters during Thursday's meeting of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity.

Today, United Fresh hosted the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) for a strategy meeting on how to ensure Congress passes the Child Nutrition Act when they return to Washington for the lame duck session in November.

"It is critically important that Congress passes a child nutrition bill this year," said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health. "The current child nutrition bill increases the reimbursement rate by $.06 per school lunch, which is tied to serving healthier meals consistent with the Dietary Guidelines, and which will enable school meals to include more fruits and vegetables. It also provides additional training for schools to serve healthier meals and strengthens school wellness policies."

Dr. DiSogra also added that the bill represents the first increase in the reimbursement rate in 40 years, and it is therefore critical that Congress pass this legislation when they return for the lame duck session.

United Fresh is a member of the NANA Steering Committee and has been a leader in the coalition's efforts to ensure the bill is reauthorized this year. This coalition of nutrition and public health organizations advocates national policies and programs to promote healthy eating and physical activity.

In the most recent weeks, the House failed to bring the Child Nutrition bill to the floor for a vote, and now both the House and Senate are recessed until November 15. For more information about the Child Nutrition bill, contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400, ext. 403.

ABC Affiliate Visits United Fresh Salad Bar in Action

United's Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, right, speaks with WJLA-TV's Lisa Fletcher, left, and Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School founder and Executive Director Linda Moore, center, on Wednesday.

WJLA-TV reporter Lisa Fletcher interviews a student at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School about the school's salad bar in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

"Is lunch better now that you have a salad bar?" asked Lisa Fletcher to a group of elementary students yesterday at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. "YES!" yelled the students.

In a story that ran Wednesday evening, the reporter for Washington-area ABC affiliate WJLA visited the school to talk with students and school officials about the benefits of their salad bar, donated through United's A Salad Bar in Every School campaign. Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School was the first of seven schools in the nation's capital to receive a salad bar through the campaign, and one of 50 such salad bars nationwide. Currently, the school's 350 students enjoy the salad bar, which contains a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, every day at lunch.

School officials told WJLA that prior to the salad bar only 20 percent of their students ate fruits and vegetables. Now, 100 nearly percent of the students eat fruits and vegetables and happily try new items offered at the salad bar.

Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh vice president of nutrition and health, was also interviewed at the school and noted the effectiveness of school salad bars and how many students nationwide are now benefiting from salad bars donated by United Fresh. "We are also very pleased that the reporter ended the story with a call to action to Congress to pass the Child Nutrition bill," she said.

The full segment is available and can be viewed at UnitedFresh.TV. For more information about A Salad Bar in Every School please contact United Fresh Vice President of Business Development Claudia Wenzing at 202-303-3400, ext. 415.

New Features Make United Programs, Issues Easier to Find at UnitedFresh.org

Visitors to the newly-redesigned UnitedFresh.org  home page can now use direct links to much of the most-viewed content of the site. With a new scrolling list of programs like the Washington Public Policy Conference and issues like food safety, the new-look UnitedFresh.org is designed to take industry members to the issues they seek with the fewest clicks.

"This new navigation feature helps us provide the most current information to our members and to the industry in the quickest and easiest way possible," said United's Vice President of Communications Ray Gilmer. "We took our most heavily-traveled portions of the site and gave them graphic links right on the home page."

The new approach is part of an overall site redesign aimed at making UnitedFresh.org more user-friendly and accessible. The new layout features industry and association news at users' fingertips, market segment-specific programming, features on United members, as well as direct links to UnitedFresh.TV and United’s pages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Currently on the site's main page, users can find highlights of this month's Washington Public Policy Conference and news on industry priorities, as well as a link to video footage from WPPC at UnitedFresh.TV.

USDA, Red Book Collaborate on Specialty Crop Block Grant Webinar

Members of the produce supply chain including growers, processors, packers and distributors who are interested in USDA's Specialty Block Grant Program should save the date for the December 16 informational webinar coordinated by USDA and Red Book University.

The webinar, slated to begin at 2:00, will feature key USDA officials presenting information on how members of the produce industry can take advantage of the program to enhance their capabilities in areas such as food safety, marketing and promotion, research and plant health, among others. During the webinar, participants will learn more about what the program is and about the application process.

There is no charge for participation, but registration is required. For more information about the webinar, contact Christopher Purdy, business development specialist, USDA Agriculture Marketing Service Fruit and Vegetable Program at 202-720-3209.

USDA-Rural Development Announces Rural Coop Grants

This week, USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager announced support to help rural cooperatives expand economic activity in their communities.

"President Obama and Secretary Vilsack have recognized the importance of America's Rural Cooperatives during Cooperative Month. Rural cooperatives not only provide thousands of jobs, they invigorate local communities and businesses," Tonsager said. "The grants I am announcing today will help these recipients continue their work. Their success underscores the importance of the cooperative system as a successful business model."

The funding is being provided through USDA's Rural Cooperative Development Grant program. During his speech, Tonsager highlighted several cooperative projects and acknowledged the efforts of co-op officials from across the country. According to the National Cooperative Business Association, the nation's 30,000 cooperatives account for more than $650 billion in revenue and more than 2 million jobs.

More information on the grants can be found at www.rurdev.usda.gov.

Congratulations to Peri & Sons' Lindsay Dixon, Winner of the WPPC iPad!
Lindsay Dixon, food safety and organic certification guru for Yerington, NV-based Peri & Sons Farms has been named the winner of a new Apple iPad courtesy of United Fresh. Dixon was one of 120 first-time attendees to last month's Washington Public Policy Conference, which drew more than 525 members of the fresh and fresh-cut produce industry from 35 states. Each attendee who registered for the annual WPPC before September 1 was entered into a drawing for the iPad.

Photos from the conference can be found here, and video highlights from Fresh Festival, the March on Capitol Hill and other WPPC programming is available at UnitedFresh.TV.

New Member Welcome

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

  • CitroBio, Inc., Sarasota, FL

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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