December 16, 2010

In Today's Issue:

United Joins Celebration as President Obama Signs the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

As President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law on Monday at a Washington, DC elementary school, United Fresh Vice President of Nutrition & Health Dr. Lorelei DiSogra attended the signing ceremony with First Lady Michelle Obama, Cabinet secretaries, Members of Congress and child nutrition advocates who worked diligently to promote and ultimately pass the bill. 

"It was just thrilling to attend the signing ceremony and hear the President and Mrs. Obama talk about the importance of improving school meals, including more fresh fruits and vegetables. This bill is really historic in its scope and the impact it will have on 31 million children every school day," said Dr. DiSogra. "The signing ceremony was the perfect culmination of a great deal of dedicated work, and gave all of us a chance to thank our Congressional champions and their staffs for everything they did to pass this bill. Passing this type of legislation is really a total team effort and it meant a lot to see our allies in Congress as excited as we are that this bill is now law."

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is especially impactful for the produce industry, as it provides funds to increase fresh fruits and vegetables as a key tactic for improving the quality of school breakfasts, lunches and other foods sold in schools, as well as nutrition programs that serve young children, including WIC and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The bill provides 6 cents per meal for school lunches, or an estimated $1.8 million per day, to enhance school meals across the country. 

The signing ceremony, including remarks by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, can be viewed here. For more information, please contact Dr. DiSogra at 202-303-3400, ext. 403.

United Member Salad Bar Donations Benefit Thousands in New Orleans Schools

With generous support from members participating in the New Orleans Salad Bar Cruise during this fall's Washington Public Policy Conference, the United Fresh Foundation has donated 10 salad bars to New Orleans area schools, adopting this home city to the United Fresh 2011 convention and exposition May 2-5.

United's Dr. Lorelei DiSogra and Policy/Grassroots Manager Andrew Marshall visited New Orleans schools last week to see the salad bars in action, meeting with students and school officials, New Orleans child nutrition advocates and foundations, school foodservice distributors, and United Fresh members. Special thanks to Paul Ferachi and Amy Carlson of Capitol City Produce, and John Beauleiu of USDA/ARS Southern Regional Research Center, who participated in several meetings.

"It was so gratifying to see the wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and the enthusiastic response from students and school officials in the three K-8 schools in the Algiers Charter School Association that had received salad bars last fall," said Dr. DiSogra.  "In Algiers, the CEO, school nurse and a school board member told us they want salad bars in all nine of their schools. The principal of Tubman Elementary School said it was “a dream come true" for her school to receive one of the first salad bars, and many of her students gave us thank you notes addressed to "Dear Salad Bar People!"  Needless to say, I told them we would do everything possible to make sure the remaining six schools receive salad bars through the support of United Fresh members."

At a meeting hosted by the Louisiana Charter School Association, all in attendance had heard about the salad bars in Algiers and expressed interest in receiving salad bars for their schools as well.  DiSogra and Marshall ended the trip with a tour of the famous New Orleans Edible School Yard project that combines an incredible school garden with education and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables at lunch.

Plans for New Orleans salad bar activities during the May 2011 convention will be announced after the first of the year.

Foodservice Excellence to Earn Chefs Top Honors at United Fresh 2011

The competition is underway once more to honor the foodservice industry's most groundbreaking produce performers through the Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program. The program, presented through the United Fresh Foundation's Center for Leadership Excellence, is generously supported by founding sponsor Pro*Act, LLC, and is now entering its fourth year.
"This award recognizes the positive impact that chefs and foodservice operators have on the produce industry," said Max Yeater, chief operating officer of Pro*Act. "Across the country, chefs at restaurants and foodservice operations play such an important role in increasing the consumption of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables by creating new and exciting ways to incorporate fresh produce into their menus."
Winning chefs will be honored in the categories of Fine Dining Restaurants, Casual and Family Dining Restaurants, Quick Serve Restaurants, Business in Industry & Colleges, and Hotels & Healthcare Industry, as well as an inaugural honoree in a the new K-12 Foodservice category.
"As the inspiration behind menu design and culinary innovation, chefs have such an important, high-profile role to play in the fresh produce industry," said United Retail-Foodservice Board 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 refresh the ways consumers enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables."

The six winning chefs and their corporate executives will receive complimentary airfare, hotel accommodations and registrations to United Fresh 2011, May 2-5 in New Orleans. The winners will be honored at the Annual Awards Banquet on Wednesday, May 4. The chefs will also participate in the education program at United Fresh 2011 to share their views on produce trends in foodservice.

"There are thousands of talented chefs who work hard every day to find new and exciting ways to present fresh produce to diners," said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and CEO. “With Pro*Act's generous support, we are able to honor those chefs who are committed to improving the produce industry at the foodservice level by delighting consumers with their fresh produce creations."
Winners will be selected based on nominees' incorporation of fresh produce into menu development, use of protocols for correct storage and handling of produce, community engagement and outreach and how nominees build an overall positive dining experience featuring fresh produce.  Winners will be selected by a panel of United Fresh members focused on excellence in the foodservice sector. Nominations must be submitted before February 7, 2011 and nomination information is available online here.

Last year's winners in each category were:

Fine Dining:  Chef Sydney Meers, Chef/Owner, Stove, The Restaurant, Portsmouth, Va.
Casual & Family Dining:  Chef Christopher Jackson, Executive Chef and Owner, Ted & Honey, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Quick Service:  Chef Thomas John, Senior Vice President and Executive Chef, Au Bon Pain, Boston, Mass.
Business in Industry & Colleges:  Chef Fred Reynaud, Corporate Executive Chef, Guest Services, Inc., Fairfax, Va.
Hotels & Healthcare:  Chef Michael Reich, Executive Chef, Renaissance Chicago Hotel, Chicago, Ill.

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

United Discusses Food Safety, Nutrition with Southern California Produce Industry

Food safety legislation, GAP Harmonization and federal nutrition programs were on the docket last week as 64 representatives from the Southern California produce industry met at the Kyoto Grand Hotel in Los Angeles for a United Fresh Town Hall Luncheon.

Sean Picquelle, produce manager for Taco Bell and member of the United Fresh Retail-Foodservice Board, Food Safety & Technology Council and the Produce GAPs Harmonization Technical Working Group, shared an update on United’s food safety efforts, including work to harmonize various audit schemes.

Marty Ordman, vice president of marketing and communications for Dole Food Company, shared Dole's experience donating salad bars to schools through the Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.

Member hosts and volunteer leaders Emily Fragoso of Coast Produce, Wes Liefer of Pura Vida Farms and Andrew Bivens of Westlake Produce, shared their experiences as participants in the Produce Industry Leadership Program.

The luncheon, sponsored by Coast Produce, Pura Vida Farms and Westlake Produce, "brought together a cross-section of the Southern California produce industry for a lively discussion of United Fresh programs and provided valuable input on food safety and nutrition initiatives," said Jeff Oberman, United's vice president of membership and trade relations.

For more information about United's Town Hall program, please contact Miriam Miller, United's senior director of membership at 202-303-3400, ext. 410.

How Much Do You Know About Produce Standards and Quality?

Members of the fresh produce industry may now test their knowledge of quality and grading standards by taking United's online Produce Quality Inspection Quiz.

The quiz is offered in conjunction with the launch of registration for United’s Produce Inspection Training Program, January 10-14 in Fredericksburg, VA. The course is offered through United's Center for Food Safety and Quality, and provides hands-on instruction from USDA experts.

The Inspection Training Program is divided into two specialized courses: the two-day Fundamentals Course, which focuses on topics such as inspection essentials, PACA, sampling procedures, and general market principles, and the three-day Commodity Labs course, which applies the principals learned in the fundamentals course to real product inspections. Each Commodity Labs course includes hands-on inspections of grapes, lettuces, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes and is also customized with up to seven additional commodities based on the attendees' most common preferences.

For more information on this course, click here or contact Julie Jacocks, United Fresh's education manager, at 202-303-3405.

FDA Changes Emergency Number

In conjunction with its move from its College Park, MD, facility to the agency's Silver Spring, MD facility, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 24-hour emergency contact number has been changed to 301-796-8240 or 1-866-300-4374. The numbers are used to report the following types of problems to the agency:

  • A serious, life-threatening event involving an FDA-regulated product, i.e., foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, human drugs animal drugs, medical devices, biological products, and radiation-emitting electronic products
  • Requests from medical professionals for approval for the use of an emergency investigational new drug, device or biologic.
  • Notifications to FDA from government agents acting in an official capacity about an urgent matter.
  • Reports of an emergency involving an FDA employee or an FDA employee's family member. 
  • Reports of a non-life threatening adverse reaction to an FDA-regulated product that requires immediate reporting.

For more on emergencies and the FDA, please click here.

Meet Your United Fresh Board of Directors: Bay Area Native Mike Cavallero Is Happy He Didn't Use That World Series Ticket

Mike Cavallero
President, North American Tropical and Fresh Fruit
Dole Food Company
Westlake Village, California

Many of the industry's leaders are transplants. Are you originally from California?

I am. I was born and raised in San Francisco and started with Dole at their headquarters there in 1974 after graduating from San Francisco State.

What's your favorite thing about the Bay Area?

The Giants winning the World Series. I wasn't able to get to any of the first few home games, but I had tickets for the sixth game at AT&T Park. Because they won in five games, I wasn't able to make that game. A mixed blessing I guess, but after what happened a few years ago in Anaheim, losing in seven games, I’ll take the wins as quickly as they can come.

Dole has been around for a very long time, and is closely woven into the communities in which it operates. How do you find that history helps in your daily business?

We still have some of the signs around here that say "Quality, Quality, Quality." That was the motto years and years ago when the company was just doing pineapple in Hawaii as Castle & Cooke. As they bought various companies throughout the years, that has continued to be the most important aspect that’s been pushed.

Dole holds the title of the largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world. As such, what is the main public policy issue that stands out for you as the most important?

It really depends on the year - and the season within that year. Over time, you could really pick any of the issues and we've been involved. I would think right now that food safety is a key issue, and also labor costs are a big one for us.

Dole has been very committed in the United Fresh effort to bring a salad bar to every school. Institutionally, what is the value for Dole, and personally, what is the takeaway for you from this involvement in child nutrition?

I think that the main issue for us - the largest fruit and vegetable shipper, as you said before - if we can improve and increase consumption, then we benefit as a company and we should pursue that. Anything we can do to improve the consumption of fruits and vegetables benefits us for two reasons. One, from a corporate standpoint, it helps us to increase our revenues, and two, our chairman is very committed to healthy eating and changing the way that the American public eats - and the world eats. So by using the salad bar to teach kids how to eat more fruits and vegetables, we're teaching them how to eat better, and avoid those foods that are less than healthy.

Our industry is in the middle of a discussion right now over what it means to be "locally grown." Is there a place for fruits and vegetables that by their nature aren't grown anywhere nearby to be considered "local?"

We've talked about that, and I don’t know that we’re really interested in "spinning" that. I think that we are, like some others in the industry, confused on the whole "local" discussion, and asking ourselves "what is local?" If we start saying that a product was grown, then imported by a local American company, I think we're kind of throwing curves at the consumer and mixing them up.

Undoubtedly over that time, the consumer has changed as well. How does Dole work to keep in touch with a consumer that increasingly seeks out information?

By keeping in touch with the ever-changing technology and social networking environments. Especially in our banana organic program, people can trace the product right back to the farm and the packing plant. We've been providing that capability now for three or four years and that effort has been very successful and we've seen some really positive results. Eventually we'll expand that to more of our products, gearing ourselves more toward the consumer than maybe we had in the early years. On the packaged foods side of the business, a big chunk of the advertising dollars have been dedicated to the consumer, and on the fresh side, we're doing more of that now than we have in the past.

How do you unwind when you're not at work?

I try to play golf, but sometimes that's not as unwinding as I'd like it to be.  

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

  • Basin Gold Cooperative, Pasco, WA
  • Field Fresh Foods, Inc., Gardena, CA
  • Flavor 1st Growers & Packers, Horse Shoe, NC
  • The Tom Lange Company, Inc., Springfield, IL

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:

  • Royal Rose, LLC, Spreckels, CA

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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