June 10, 2014
In Today's Issue:
In Meeting with USDA Sec. Vilsack, United Chairman Carkoski Pledges Solutions for Helping Schools Meet Standards for Serving Fresh Produce

Today in Washington, DC, United Fresh Chairman Ron Carkoski participated in a high-level meeting with USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack and representatives from 15 health, nutrition and school organizations to discuss solutions for meeting modern school meal standards, including serving half a cup of fruits/vegetables at lunch. Sam Kass, executive director of Let's Move! and senior policy advisor for nutrition policy, also participated. Carkoski, president & CEO at The Four Seasons Family of Companies, Ephrata, PA, was the only produce industry representative at the USDA meeting.

"I urged everyone to use the strength of the suppliers to find solutions and help the schools succeed in meeting these standards," said Carkoski after the meeting. "The overall discussion was excellent, with a commitment for ongoing discussion and education to help school nutrition operators find the most efficient ways to provide a variety of fruits and vegetables to their students."

At the meeting, Sec. Vilsack underscored his support for finding solutions and said he was asking USDA staff to undertake steps to provide education and assistance to schools. United Fresh appreciates USDA's leadership on this important issue.

School meal standards have been the subject of debate in Congress in recent weeks as lawmakers have considered granting wavers to schools who say they cannot meet them. United Fresh and nutrition allies have resolutely opposed any delay or watering down of the requirements calling for half a cup of fruits/vegetables to be provided at lunch for schools in the National School Lunch Program, which serves 32 million students a day.

Organizations invited to the USDA meeting:

  • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Alliance for a Healthier Generation
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Heart Association
  • Center for Science in the Public Interest
  • Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
  • Food Research & Action Center
  • Mission: Readiness
  • National Education Association
  • National Food Service Management Institute
  • National Parent Teacher Organization
  • National School Board Association
  • Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Public Health Institute
  • School Nutrition Association
  • United Fresh

Also at the meeting, Carkoski cited United's participation at next week's School Nutrition Association national conference in Boston as an example of finding cooperative solutions (see next story). The United Fresh Produce Pavilion will offer resources for school nutrition staff who are looking for ways to increase servings of fresh produce in school meals.

"As a business operator with more than 400 employees, I stressed the importance of finding ways to manage healthcare costs through better nutrition," added Carkoski. "Everything we can do to improve school nutrition today can help the next generation's health and wellness, and that's a win-win for us all." 

For more information, please contact United's Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3400.


United Fresh Foundation Hosts Fresh Produce Pavilion at Next Week's School Nutrition Convention

Next week in Boston, the United Fresh Foundation hosts the first-ever Fresh Produce Pavilion at the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference in Boston, July 13-16. The pavilion establishes a destination area on the trade show floor focused exclusively on promoting fresh fruits and vegetables.

The new pavilion includes exhibits by many United Fresh member companies and an educational learning area for school foodservice directors.  The Foundation's learning area is co-sponsored by PRO*ACT, which is bringing a number of produce distribution experts to serve as consultants for schools to answer all their produce-related questions, share guidance and tips for writing produce RFPs, and talk about the wide variety of fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables that are ideal for school foodservice.  The learning area will display salad bars for school meals and snacking options to comply with the new "Smart Snacks in Schools" standards that go into effect next school year.

"We are pleased with the industry support given to this first-ever pavilion designed to help schools maximize their success in serving a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables," said United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel.  "This strategy gives us valuable face time with hundreds of school foodservice directors from across the country, helping them understand the unique aspects of the fresh produce marketplace, as well as making sure they're aware of the many fresh and fresh-cut produce items that that can appeal to the next generation of produce consumers."

"We appreciate PRO*ACT's assistance in staffing the learning area, where school foodservice directors will be able to consult with experts outside of their own procurement process.  This provides a low-pressure learning opportunity when buyers are not negotiating with their own vendors, but instead are learning from distributors who are not actually competing for their business," Stenzel added.

The 1,600 sq. ft. Fresh Produce Pavilion will feature booths from member companies, in addition to the education learning area.  Exhibitors include:

  • Chiquita Brands International
  • Duda Farm Fresh Foods
  • Grimmway Farms
  • HMC Farms
  • Mushroom Council
  • National Watermelon Promotion Board
  • NatureSeal
  • Pear Bureau Northwest
  • Ready Pac Foods
  • San Miguel Produce

Additionally, United has organized educational sessions at the SNA show designed to help school nutrition staffs achieve variety, quality and a collaborative relationship with their produce suppliers.

For more information about United's pavilion at the SNA conference, contact Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3400.

United to Honor Industry Advocate at The Washington Conference

The United Fresh Produce Association will again honor one company as an outstanding advocate for the fresh fruit and vegetable industry this September at The Washington Conference. United's Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award pays special recognition to one company that serves as an advocate for the entire produce industry.

"United is proud to honor the companies that make an impact and drive the industry forward on policy issues," said Robert Guenther, United's senior vice president of public policy. "Every year, the selection process is a challenge because the nominated companies constitute a very devoted and deserving group of leading voices for our industry."

The United Fresh member award recipient is selected based on the candidate's demonstration of outstanding support for public policy advocacy with federally-elected leaders; diligent work on federal policy objectives to advance the fresh produce industry; active involvement with produce industry political initiatives such as The Washington Conference, Grassroots Action Network and United FreshPAC; and United Fresh membership. The recipient of this year's award will be announced during The Washington Conference, September 8-10.

Past Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award winners include:

2013 - Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc.
2012 - Four Seasons Family of Companies
2011 - Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association; National Watermelon Association
2010 - C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc.
2009 - Pro*Act, LLC
2008 - Walter P. Rawl & Sons
2007 - New York Apple Association, Inc.
2006 - Sunkist Growers, Inc.
2005 - L & M Companies
2004 - Produce for Better Health Foundation
2003 - Tanimura & Antle
2002 - Capital City Fruit Company, Inc

For more information on the United Fresh Produce Industry Advocate of the Year Award, contact Angela Tiwari at 202-303-3416.


Register for The Washington Conference Webinar Series – Immigration Reform

Be sure to register now for the next installment of United United's annual Washington Conference Webinar Series: My Business Needs a Stable and Legal Workforce NOW - The Current State of Play as Immigration Policy Moves Through Congress.  Registration is complimentary for United members and $50 for non-members. Participate in the webinar series to hear insightful perspectives from industry and United staff experts on the top policy and regulatory initiatives affecting your business today.

A recording of last week's webinar – Fruits and Vegetables at Stake in School Meals – is available for viewing. For more information on the recording or about any topics of The Washington Conference Webinar Series contact Erin Grether at 202-303-3402.

In addition to participating in the webinars, be sure to register for The Washington Conference, the only event where the produce industry's most prominent and influential executives connect with each other and key members of Congress for strategic face-to-face dialogue. Join your colleagues in Washington and share your real-world experiences of how the political landscape is impacting your business and the broader produce industry.


Family Business Scholarships Available – Apply Today for an Enlightening Experience!

United Fresh is accepting applications for the 2014 Frieda Rapoport Caplan Family Business Scholarship Program. Submit your application today; don't miss your opportunity to march on the Hill!

The Program, established in 2001 through a generous grant from Frieda's, Inc., is designed to increase family business' involvement in government relations and produce industry advocacy. Up to four scholarship recipients from family-owned businesses will receive complimentary airfare, hotel and registration to attend The Washington Conference, September 8-10 at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Washington Conference brings more than five hundred produce leaders from all sectors of the industry to interact and share ideas with administration officials, congressional leaders and industry colleagues.

"This scholarship afforded me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and immerse myself in the issues that our industry is facing" said Dan Henry, W.D. Henry & Sons, Inc. "It's easy to get accustomed to day-to-day activities, and this program really opened my eyes to the importance of getting politically engaged and speaking up—after all, our livelihoods are at stake."

Applicants must complete an application form by July 31 and be employed by a family-owned business that is a United Fresh member company in good standing; the opportunity is open to first-time attendees of The Washington Conference. 

Applications should be sent to the United Fresh Produce Association, attention Shannon Young, United Fresh Education Manager via email to syoung@unitedfresh.org or fax 202-303-3433. 

For more information about the scholarship program and The Washington Conference visit www.unitedfresh.org/twc.


Register Today for the United Fresh Foundation Tip Murphy Legacy Golf Tournament

Join us on Monday, September 29, for The United Fresh Foundation Tip Murphy Legacy Golf Tournament. Participation in this fundraising event supports the foundation's programs to increase children's access to fresh fruits and vegetables, a critical step in combating childhood obesity and launching a lifetime of healthy choices! The Tournament will celebrate Tip's legacy of service to the produce industry, network with retail and industry colleagues, and support a great cause benefitting the next generation of produce consumers.

Registration is $350 per person or $1400 per foursomeTournament fees includes lunch, 18 holes with cart, awards reception and contest holes including closest-to-the-pin and longest drive.

To register, or for more information, visit the United Fresh website or contact Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3407.


Learn Hands-On Inspection Skills from USDA's Experts

Join United Fresh and the USDA for the final Produce Inspection Training Program of the year, September 22-26, 2014. It's the last such course to be offered this year.

This unique program is designed to provide real, hands-on instruction to anyone involved in the produce supply chain, including produce buyers, warehouse managers, inspectors, quality control managers, produce receivers, dock supervisors, inventory control managers and more!
Register Your Team Today!

September Course Dates:
September 22-26, 2014 Full Course (Fundamentals & Labs)
September 22-23, 2014 Fundamentals of Produce Inspection*
September 24-26, 2014 Commodity Labs

*Attendees must attend the Fundamentals Course as a pre-requisite to the Commodity Labs

Class size is limited and attendees are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information click here or contact Shannon Young, education manager, at 202-303-3400, ext. 405.


Learn About Traceability at Chipotle Mexican Grill in Latest PTI Newsletter

The latest edition of PTI FYI newletter is now available on the PTI website. This issue includes stories about:

•New Traceability Case Study: Chipotle Mexican Grill
• PTI Leadership Council Continues to Support Implementation Efforts
• Implementation Status Updates from LC companies
• FSMA Update
• E-Learning Modules for Product Identification and Traceability 
• PTI in the News

Click here to see the latest edition of PTI FYI.


New Member Welcome

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

  • Triple J Produce, Inc. Sims, NC

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 Miriam Wolk at 202-303-3410.


Upcoming United Fresh Events

Join us for events designed to grow your business:

The Washington Conference Webinar Series: My Business Needs a Stable and Legal Workforce NOW - The Current State of Play as Immigration Policy Moves Through Congress
Thursday, July 24, 2014 (2pm - 3pm US/Eastern)

The Washington Conference Webinar Series: Capitol Hill 101 - Washington Conference First Time Attendee
Aug 14, 2014 (2pm - 3pm US/Eastern)

The Washington Conference Webinar Series: What Congress Needs to Know About Your Business - Preparing for your March on Washington
Aug 21, 2014 (2pm - 3pm US/Eastern)

The Washington Conference 2014
Sep 8-10, Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

Produce Inspection Training Program
Sep 22-26, USDA SCI Training & Development Center, Fredericksburg, VA

United Fresh Foundation Tip Murphy Legacy Golf Tournament
Sep 29, Oasis Golf Club, Loveland, OH