Soup To Nutz

Welcome to 2019! Many years ago, our fearless leader Jeff Metzger asked me what it is I think we do here at Food Trade News. My response: to inform, educate and entertain. To our loyal readers, expect more of the same in 2019 with an added twist coming soon. Sorry, no hints. Our industry is a continuous chess game, so keep it here for all the moves and hopefully no checkmates as we head full force into the year.

Philabundance, the region’s largest food bank serving nine counties in Pennsylvania and New Jersey just released their statistics for 2018 and they are awesome. More than 26 million pounds of food was distributed to those who are food insecure in the Delaware Valley. Seventy percent of that number was healthy food. Seniors in need received 1.7 million pounds while 173 thousand pounds was distributed to various children’s programs. Over 365 different agencies received deliveries by trucks that drove 181 thousand miles to get them what they needed. The Philabundance Community Kitchen had 48 graduates this year with over 850 to date. PCKatering, an adult culinary arts job training program for low-income adults who need a second chance at life, created 83 jobs in its first year. But most importantly, 14 thousand volunteers saved Philabundance over $725 thousand in expenses. How can your company help fight hunger in 2019? Go to www.philabundance.org to find out.

Taking a walk into the sunset is Logan Brown who is retiring at the end of the month after 31 years with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA). A graduate of Rider University, Logan began his tenure with NJDA at the time the Jersey Fresh brand marketing program also began. He was involved with the it from the time he was hired until now. It is the first and longest running state agricultural brand marketing program. He was also the main point of contact for international marketing development and for the past 10 years, he’s overseen the department’s disbursement of more than $6 million to commodity councils and university researchers studying crop management and health. Happy trails, Logan. Enjoy your retirement!

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Heaven gained another angel on December 28. My buddy/dearest friend of almost 40 years and local industry sales legend Nate Ostroff passed away while on vacation with his family in Aruba. He and his wife Judi spent two weeks at the end of each year there. I know how happy he was to go this year as they hadn’t gone in the past couple of years. Nate was one of the “Three Musketeers,” also known as “the Clique” back in the 1980s – Nate, the late Jeffrey Bilk and me. Now, two if my closest friends in the industry have been taken too soon. Nate was a friend who became family. We celebrated many happy occasions together, but the best times spent together were just hanging out on the beach in Ventnor, his happy place. Nate loved to play quoits on the beach with his long-time friends, talk shop, more recently play with his granddaughters, and sit at the water’s edge until the sun was setting. He was the quintessential salesman, a bag schlepper, as we in sales affectionately call ourselves. He knew everyone in the food industry and had fabulous stories going as far back as the early 70s. On one of our more recent excursions to tour the Kosher supermarkets in Northeast Philly, we did “deli” at one of his favorite places, Steve Stein’s Famous Deli. The conversation was lively and historic. His mind was like a steel trap when it came to the Philadelphia market’s players. Nate’s reputation was impeccable and he was as honest as the day is long. His dedication to giving back to the industry went unmatched. He was a founding member and past president of the Tri-State Dairy Deli Association, past president of Philadelphia Food Trades Organization and current board member of the Mid Atlantic Food Trade Organization…all charitable groups helping those in both the food and surrounding communities. Nate was my Monday morning call – 9:00 a.m. He was my “go to” resource. But most importantly, he was my friend, one of the ones you can count on one hand. A few days before he left for Aruba, I saw him at a shiva for his mother-in-law. Before giving him a hug goodbye, I prophetically asked him, “What am I going to do without talking with you for two weeks?” I know he’s in a good place now, his happy place for sure. Rest in peace, Nate.

Birthday shout outs for the dreary month of January go to: Linda Doherty, NJFC; Eve Gigis, Acme Markets; Ruth “Momma Dietz” Eni, Dietz & Watson; Gary Larkin, Paul G. Nester and Co.;

David Patragnoni, SunFed Ranch; George Latella, Saint Joseph’s University; Tim Musgrove, Herr Foods; Karen Fernandez, Food World/Food Trade News; and FTN alumni Meg Major, Bob Ingram and Scott Lichterman. Buon Compleanno a tutti!

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Quote of the month: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” T.S. Eliot