December 2, 2010

In Today's Issue:

United Fresh Applauds Passage of Child Nutrition Bill

United Fresh applauds today's passageof the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, which previously passed the Senate by unanimous consent, will now go to President Obama for his signature. Passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act also represents the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative.  

"This historic legislation is a huge victory for children, their families and schools across America and a victory for fruits and vegetables and public health," said United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra. "For the first time in more than 30 years, Congress is increasing the federal reimbursement rate for school lunch by $.06/meal, specifically making possible the serving of more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. United Fresh is extremely gratified to have helped spearhead this landmark legislation that promises to dramatically improve the wellbeing of more than 31 million school children in America."    

In total, the bill includes provisions to improve the healthfulness of school meals and create healthier school food environments that increase student's access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The legislation will also create national nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold in school vending machines, school stores and a la carte cafeteria lines.

"United Fresh and our members have helped lead the charge for healthier school meals for many years," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "It is so encouraging to see Congress recognize that giving kids healthier options is a great first step toward fostering a healthier country."

United Fresh has established itself as a proven leader in child nutrition and recently launched Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools to support First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let's Move! initiative. Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools has pledged to donate 6,000 salad bars to schools nationwide in the next 3 years. The initiative, online at www.saladbars2schools.org, is a prime example of how increased consumption of fruits and vegetables plays a vital role in improving the health of America's kids. United Fresh also championed the inclusion of fruits and vegetable vouchers in the WIC program and nationwide expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program.

"United Fresh has worked on the Child Nutrition bill for the last two and a half years and the last six months have been intense," added DiSogra. "This is an incredible victory for the produce industry and I want to thank all United Fresh members who reached urged their Member of Congress to support child nutrition."


Letter to House Leadership Asks for Conference Committee to Restore Effectiveness of Food Safety Legislation

In a letter sent Wednesday evening to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader John Boehner, the United Fresh and 22 other organizations representing the fruit and vegetable industry encouraged House lawmakers to hold a conference with their Senate counterparts to resolve substantial differences between the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) passed Monday, and the House's Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R.2749), which passed in July of 2009.
         
"The discrepancies between the House and Senate versions of this bill are too significant to ignore, and steps must be taken to resolve those differences," said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh. "Specifically, the amendment added by Senator Jon Tester alters this bill from one based on science and risk to one based on political ideology, undermining the effectiveness of the entire legislation."
         
Through ongoing and ardent dialogue with Republican and Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate, United Fresh has repeatedly underscored that the final version of the bill must not include any exemptions for producers based on size or regional proximity.
         
"...Exempting 'smal'’ farms from following federal food safety standards, as the Senate bill currently does, undermines the intent of credible food safety systems, which are based on risk and science, not arbitrary criteria," stated the organizations in the letter. "Microbial contamination does not discriminate between small or large farms, customer base or proximity to market.  The fresh produce industry has made immense strides enhancing food safety practices over the years knowing that any foodborne illness outbreak affecting one or hundreds of people, also affects every single farmer who grows the implicated food."
         
The letter also highlighted the importance of reconciling the two versions of the legislation before moving on.
         
"Because this legislation will affect all Americans, it is crucial that every step be taken to ensure the final legislation reflects the highest possible food safety standards based first and foremost on science and risk assessment. This is critical to maintaining the safety of our country's food supply for everyone. Passage of this measure without reconciliation of key differences between the two versions falls short of the objectives, ultimately undermining the original intent to strengthen and enhance our nation's food safety system, and leaving consumers to digest a food safety bill that is short of comprehensive."


Have You Seen the Video of United Fresh and First Lady Michelle Obama?

UnitedFresh.TV is the place for video highlights from last week's Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative launch at Miami's Riverside Elementary School. Be sure to catch First Lady Michelle Obama, United Fresh Chairman Steffanie Smith, President and CEO Tom Stenzel and Vice President of Nutrition and Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra with Riverside Elementary students and representatives from CDC and USDA as United Fresh and the First Lady kick off the effort that will bring 6000 salad bars to schools nationwide over the next three years.

In addition to the video, a photo gallery from the event is available by clicking here, and more information on Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools can be found at www.saladbars2schools.org.


United Fresh Board of Directors Includes Popcorn Aficionado, Radio Host, Music Director

Did you know that there's something funny about the Mann Packing Company name? How about that the only thing you're supposed to put on gourmet popcorn is sea salt? Or that having your dad tell you that you're tone deaf is no barrier to being a county western karaoke sensation?

There's a lot you may not know about your Board members, but each week, Inside United Fresh takes a look at the United Fresh Board of Directors from a personal point of view, learning what makes our 42 board members tick, and helping to see how these leaders make a difference in our industry every day. Leaders like Capital City Fruit Company's Brendan Comito, who volunteers with a non-profit benefiting migrant worker communities in the Des Moines area and Stemilt's Roger Pepperl, who sponsors college scholarships through the Washington Apple Education Foundation.

You'll also find that the United Fresh board is filled with colorful personalities that extend far beyond the fields of produce. Characters like Coast Produce's Emily Fragoso who hosted a radio show during her time at Cal State Fullerton, or Horton Fruit Company's Jackson Woodward, who spent a year raising cattle and sheep in Australia, or even Four Seasons' Ron Carkoski, who wrote musicals as the music director for a small high school in Wisconsin.

You can find a full list of profiles at Inside United Fresh, and be sure to check back each week for a new profile and get to know the people who make a difference every day on your United Fresh Board of Directors.


United Fresh to Hold Southern California Produce Industry Town Hall Luncheon December 9 in Los Angeles

United Fresh volunteer leaders Emily Fragoso of Coast Produce, Wes Liefer of Pura Vida Farms and Andrew Bivens of Westlake Produce, will co-host a Southern California Produce Industry Town Hall Luncheon on Thursday, December 9 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at the Kyoto Grand Hotel in Los Angeles.

"As a member of the United Fresh Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the Member Relations Task Force, I have been engaged on industry issues at the national and international level that impact our business here at Coast Produce, as well as my industry colleagues throughout Southern California," said Fragoso. "I look forward to co-hosting next month's Town Hall luncheon in Los Angeles and engaging attendees in a discussion of these key issues and ways in which United Fresh delivers value and protects our industry goals."

The program will include an informal discussion of issues and opportunities affecting the Southern California produce industry, including the local impact of food safety legislation and federal regulation, as well as the potential to grow produce sales through federal nutrition programs. Staff and volunteer leaders will also provide a market segment issue overview for wholesaler-distributors, retail and food service operators, grower-shippers and fresh-cut processors.

The event is complimentary, and lunch will be provided.  To register, please click this link to register via the United Fresh website or contact Miriam Miller, senior director of membership at 202-303-3400, ext. 410.


Winter Leadership Meetings Around the Corner

More than 200 United Fresh volunteer leaders will come together next month in Sonoma, California for United's annual Winter Leadership Meetings. Attendees, we'll have a great chance to work together with partners from throughout the entire produce supply chain on issues of importance to our industry in general sessions as well as in individual council and board meetings.

Meetings of the following United Fresh leadership groups will be held:

  • Board of Directors
  • Center for Global Produce Sustainability Advisory Board
  • Food Safety & Technology Council
  • Fresh-Cut Processor Board
  • Grower-Shipper Board
  • Member Relations Task Force
  • North American Transportation Working Group
  • Nutrition & Health Council
  • Retail-Foodservice Board
  • Supply Chain Logistics Council
  • Wholesaler-Distributor Board
  • United Fresh Foundation Board of Directors

"Coming together for this series of meetings allows for our volunteer leaders to work together on emerging issues," said United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel. "While we do a great job of staying connected and productive throughout the year, there's no substitute for face to face interaction."

There is no cost to register, although we do ask that volunteer leaders select which meetings and events they plan on attending using our online system. Hotel reservations may also be made via the site.

If you have any questions about your specific meetings, please contact your board or council staff liaison or Angela Bezon Tiwari at 202-303-3400, ext. 416. 


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

  • First Fruits Marketing of Washington, Yakima, WA
  • Horton Fruit Company, Lousiville, KY
  • Potandon Produce, Idaho Falls, ID
  • Sun Rich Fresh Foods, Inc., Corona, CA

have committed to the 2010 Chairman's Roundtable:

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:

Welcome
  • Food Safety Consulting Services, Monterey, CA
  • Kronen GmbH Nahrungsmitteltechnik, Kehl, Germany
  • Pos'tiv Produce, Allentown, PA

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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