May 17, 2012
In Today's Issue:
American Heart Association and United Fresh Team Up on Capitol Hill to Support Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program

(L-R) Lorelei DiSogra, United Fresh; Jessie Coffey, Lincoln Public Schools, NE; Annette Derouin, Wilmar Public Schools, MN; Rex Bruce, Sublette School District, KS; Gitta Grether-Sweeney, Portland Public Schools, OR; Kristy Anderson, American Heart Association.

Yesterday, the American Heart Association (AHA) and United Fresh joined forces to educate Capitol Hill on the far-reaching positive impact of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) on millions of school children across the country. AHA volunteers from six states came to Washington, D.C. to share their firsthand experience with the program in their own school districts. United Fresh co-hosted a congressional briefing titled ‘The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program: A 2012 Farm Bill Priority,’ and Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition & health, acted as moderator. The AHA volunteers, from school districts in Minnesota, Oregon, Kansas and Nebraska, emphasized that Congress needs to protect the funding and integrity of the FFVP as it writes the 2012 Farm Bill, citing benefits to students, schools, families, agriculture, public health and local economies.

At the briefing, Annette Derouin, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, Willmar Public Schools in Willmar, MN, noted how the FFVP is transforming her elementary students into fruit and vegetable lovers, recalling how the students applaud and yell out “thank you” when the fresh fruit and vegetable snacks are delivered to their classrooms every day. Rex Bruce, Superintendent of Sublette School District in Sublette, Kansas, gave evidence for how the FFVP is improving child nutrition, academic performance and the local economy. Sublette elementary schools purchase $30,000 of fresh fruits and vegetables for the FFVP from their local supermarket each year, helping that supermarket stay in the community.

Jessie Coffey, FFVP Coordinator for Lincoln Public Schools in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Gitta Grether-Sweeney, Director of Nutrition Services for Portland Public Schools in Portland, Oregon, told the House and Senate audience that their FFVP reaches 10,000 and 9,000 low-income elementary students every day, respectively. Coffey and Grether-Sweeny explained that the demand for FFVP is greater than the available funding at both the district and state level.

On Wednesday afternoon, AHA officials and volunteer leaders from Texas and Colorado joined forces with the Minnesota, Kansas, Oregon and Nebraska school officials on Capitol Hill. The six AHA teams met with senators and congressmen to deliver the message that FFVP funding and integrity must be protected in the 2012 Farm Bill because of the tremendous impact it has on thousands of students in their home states.

United Fresh greatly appreciates the American Heart Association’s ongoing strong support for the FFVP and for hosting the AHA Fly-In and congressional briefing this week. The event marks a continued collaboration between United Fresh and AHA, who together advocated for the national expansion of the FFVP in the 2008 Farm Bill. The FFVP is United’s top nutrition priority for the 2012 Farm Bill.

For more information, please contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Funding Allocation for 2012-2013 School Year Released

The USDA recently announced that the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) will receive $163.5 million for the 2012-2013 school year. This $5 million increase over the previous school year, which stems from an inflation adjustment, provides an increase in funding that will allow states to bring the program to more elementary schools. The FFVP provides students in low-income elementary schools with a fresh fruit and/or vegetable snack for free every day at school to increase their overall fruit and vegetable intake. Currently more than 3 million elementary school students in over 4,600 schools nationwide benefit from the FFVP. To see the FFVP allocation for each state, click here.

One of United’s top 2012 Farm Bill priorities is to protect the funding and integrity of the FFVP. “For 10 years the FFVP has been a model for increasing children’s fresh fruit and vegetable consumption and a catalyst for creating healthier school food environments,” said Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, United’s vice president of nutrition & health. “Our goal is to protect the FFVP in the 2012 Farm Bill. We are very pleased with the Senate Agriculture Committee’s bill, which protects the FFVP, but we aren’t taking anything for granted as the House Agriculture Committee begins their work.”

The FFVP allocation for each state is available here. For more information, please contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.

Sign Up Today for the Produce GAPs Harmonization Auditor Training

Please mark your calendars for June 6-7 as the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Calibration Committee will hold a Harmonized Standards Train-the-Trainer workshop for auditors and all interested parties on the use and interpretation of the Field Operations and Harvesting Harmonized Standards. 

This 2-day workshop will be held at Costco headquarters in Issaquah, WA and will feature the official training materials developed by the Calibration Committee, designed to calibrate auditors in food safety expectations of growing and harvesting operations using the Harmonized Standards. 

Participation in the workshop is free and is open to all interested parties. There are limited spots available, so register soon! We are asking those who wish to attend to register using this form and return to Erin Grether at egrether@unitedfresh.org or call 202-303-3402.

We are considering offering a second Train-the-Trainer workshop, ideally in the Middle Atlantic area to enable others to attend, however this is the only training scheduled to date. 

For more information, please contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402.

United Fresh TV Spotlights Exhibitors, Big Events

United Fresh TV is a great way to catch up with anything you may have missed at this year’s show! Here’s your chance to see Bosch, a 2012 New Product Award Winner in the Best New Packing/Processing Equipment category, demonstrate their new flow-wrap packaging system that makes individual portion packing economical and easy. Or see highlights from other colorful booths on the show floor, with exclusive exhibitor interviews.

United Fresh TV also features video from some of the show’s biggest events. Tune in to see the 2012 Retail Produce Manager Award winners’ panel discussion, where the front line managers talked about earning customer trust, cross-department promotions and how buyers respond to country of origin labeling. The Excellence in Foodservice Award honorees also took to the stage to discuss school lunches, organic produce and connecting consumers to farmers. The donation of 100 salad bars to Texas schools is highlighted, as well as the 2012 Annual Video that presents a recap of the produce industry’s achievements in the past year.

Tune in now!

United Fresh 2012 Education Presentations Now Online!

United Fresh 2012 brought together the fresh produce industry’s thought leaders for customized education sessions and knowledge exchange. With more than 30 hours of education offered in market segment workshops, the FreshTech Learning Center and the Fresh Marketplace Learning Center, we’ve made many of the presentations available online for your reference.

To access these valuable learning tools, please click here.

USDA Celebrates 150th Anniversary

United Fresh joined in the celebration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 150th anniversary on Tuesday. Mika Brzezinski and Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.), hosts of MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," were the masters of ceremony for the celebration in Washington, DC.

"For 150 years, USDA has supported our nation's economic prosperity and touched the lives of generations of Americans," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "I'm proud of the USDA employees who carry out President Lincoln's legacy throughout the country and around the world, making USDA a truly 'Every Day, Every Way' department. Whether improving domestic and international access to food, promoting nutrition and safety of our food supply, conserving our natural resources, advancing agricultural exports, or developing the rural economy, USDA helps Americans to lead better lives."

President Lincoln created USDA in 1862 and in his last address before Congress, called it the "People's Department." At that time, about half of all Americans lived on farms, compared with about 2 percent today, according to USDA. Today, the Department works on a host of issues, including agriculture, economic development, science, natural resource conservation and more.

“United Fresh would like to wish USDA all the best on it’s milestone 150th anniversary,” said Robert Guenther, United’s senior vice president of public policy. “The department has been a tireless ally for the American farmer and an invaluable resource for advancing the competitiveness of American agriculture through research, trade and policy. USDA has truly supported the fresh produce industry’s goal of improving nutrition through increased fruit and vegetable consumption with their leadership on the MyPlate initiative and new school meal standards that increase healthful fresh produce served in cafeterias.”

More information on other events celebrating USDA’s 150th anniversary is available here.

United Fresh Meets with Chinese Agricultural Delegation

United Fresh staff with Chinese delegation and their beautiful gift to the office.

United Fresh hosted a six member Chinese delegation at its Washington offices to discuss food safety, sustainability and government relations strategies. The group was briefed on United’s mission and membership by United staff, who were on hand to answer questions and give helpful insights into the produce industry. Led by Mr. Xuping Kang, deputy director, General Office of Jiangsu Provincial Party Committee, the delegation discussed the strengths of the fresh produce industry in the United States, particularly in regards to pending Farm Bill legislation. The delegates also inquired about the impact of maximum residue limits on food safety and trade, and shared some of their sustainability program challenges and successes. The group included various government and private sector officials involved in agricultural issues in China.

New Member Welcome

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

  • Rochester Public Markets, Rochester, NY

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 Wolk at 202-303-3410.

Upcoming United Fresh Events

Join us for events designed to grow your business.

Produce Inspection Training Program
May 21-23, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

UGA Hands-On HACCP for the Fresh-Cut Industry
May 22-24, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

GAPs Harmonization Auditor Training
June 6-7, Costco Headquarters, Issaquah, WA

Produce Inspection Training Program
September 10-14, USDA Training Center, Fredericksburg, VA

Washington Public Policy Conference
October 1-3, Washington, DC