A native of Philadelphia, Maria has been in the food business for most of her career as a manufacturer, distributor and restaurateur. Now with Food Trade News for over 10 years, she likes to say we inform, educate and entertain. She can be reached at

March is supposed to come in like a lion and exit like a lamb and, so far, it is right on scheduleBut it’s not the weather that people in the Delaware Valley are talking about. The main topic of conversation is a 26 year old baseball player from Las Vegas named Bryce Harper, aka, Harp. Since his signing earlier this month more Phillies tickets and jerseys have been sold than in, well, a very long time. The city is giddy with thoughts of a pennant race and even a World Series coming back to Philadelphia. And hopefully, he won’t give the fans a reason to boo him off the field! Welcome to Philly, Harp! 

Earlier this month, Giant/Martin’s celebrated the achievements of its store teams and associates at its annual business meeting held in Lancaster, PA. More than 30 awards were presented recognizing the recipients’ commitment to the company, dedication to customer service, and driving new initiatives. “It’s impossible to be more proud than I am of this team, and this year’s award recipients embody all the values that Giant stands for,” said Nicholas Bertram, president of Giant/Martin’s. “I believe our team of 30,000 associates is what makes Giant so special, and together we are innovating, adapting, bringing families around the table, and totally laser-focused on our customers and our communities.” 

The 2019 awards include top store associate companywide, which went to Mark Howard, from the Kline Village store in Harrisburg. Also, 10 other associates were recognized as store associates of the year – Joe Babylon, West Chester, PA; Gail Doherty, Stephens City, VA; Nikki Futer, Jamison, PA; Jack Harris, Plymouth Meeting, PA; Jennifer Heiden, Blue Bell, PA; Linda Kemmerer, Allentown, PA; Christy Komorowski, Quakertown, PA; Lora Spiker, Shrewsbury, PA; Christina Pulaski, Reading, PA; and Bonnie Wilson, Eldersburg, MD. 


The President’s Award was presented to Tim Santoro, district director of operations, Lancaster and York. Support associate of the year was presented to Chris Brand, director, external communications and community relations. Merchant of the year was Brian Lorenz, director of deli and bakery. Marketer of the year was presented to Dana Sherwood, design manager. Category team of the year, awarded to a category team manager in each portfolio, included: beer and wine – Chad Kyollen; fruit – Rob Backer; frozen – Karen Brassel; seafood – Bryan Beck; and household and pet – Henry WeberPrepared foods, led by Rob Palmeri, was selected as the overall category team of the year. 

In addition to the awards presentation, Giant/Martin’s also announced $22.5 million in cash and product donations to its local communities in 2018. The overall donations, from customers, associates, vendors, and the company, included $10 million to fight hunger, $6.2 million to help kids and more than $5 million towards building healthier communities. Highlights of the overall $22 million in cash and product donations include: $1 million to Philabundance and $800,000 to Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to help increase youth programs, provide healthier food options, and improve logistics in all regions served; more than 4 million pounds of food were given to regional food banks, equaling more than 3.4 million meals through the company’s signature Meat the Needs program10,000 Thanksgiving turkeys to help families in need and $3.34 million to children’s health efforts, including $1.4 million from customers through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in-store campaigns. 

“Last year we celebrated our 95th anniversary and we want to extend one Giant thanks to our customers, associates and vendor partners who joined us in marking this milestone through their generous support of efforts to fight hunger and help kids in our local communities,” said Bertram. 


Produce for Kids celebrated with partners at the annual Produce for Kids reception at the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure earlier this month asking the crowd of more than 200, “What’s Your Cause?” The “What’s Your Cause?” theme for the evening stems from Produce for Kid’s efforts to help the industry better understand the need and value of cause marketing campaigns. Trish James, vice president of Produce for Kids, and CMO Shuman Farms addressed the crowd, “Today’s shoppers not only gravitate towards brands that give back, they are starting to expect and demand that brands do so.” James continued, “To reach these shoppers it is important for brands to define their cause in an age where consumers are expecting brands, companies and corporations to help make our world a better place by supporting a cause.” 

Guests were encouraged to use the #WhatsYourCause hashtag throughout the reception and remainder of Southern Exposure coordinating with the chalk art, created by renowned 3-D chalk artist Shawn McCann, to be displayed at the Produce for Kids booth on Saturday during the show. For each photo taken at the Produce for Kids booth with the #WhatsYourCause art, Produce for Kids donated one meal to Feeding America. An additional meal was donated by posting the photo to social media using the hashtag. “Through our cause marketing campaigns at Produce for Kids, we have raised $6.7 million for families in need since 2002 and $278,000 in 2018 alone,” continued James. “We are extremely excited to celebrate our generous partners this evening.” Large checks were presented for each 2018 retail and Power Your Lunchbox campaign which included Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) Springfield Division, Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) Gulf Coast Division, Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) Oklahoma Division, Military Produce Group, Meijer Food Stores and Publix Super Markets. The 2019 Produce for Kids retail partners include Allegiance Retail Services, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Giant, Military Produce Group, Publix Super MarketsIn addition, Mission for Nutrition and the sixth annual Power Your Lunchbox program will launch in August 2019 to kick-off the school year.  

The cat is out of the bag. The Mid Atlantic Food Trade Organization (MAFTO) is honoring Jim Perkins of Acme Markets at its 15th annual Signature Gala. Once again, the gala weekend will be held in Atlantic City at a location to be determined very soon. So, mark your calendars for the food industry’s best weekend getaway, November 8-10, 2019. 

Congratulations to the Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) Food Marketing student team as they beat out a field of 14 universities at the NGA Case Challenge Competition during the recent NGA show in San Diego. Their final opponent was rival Western Michigan. The challenge was how can Stepherson’s (a Memphis, TN Independent) attract and retain diverse millennial talent (especially Hispanics). The team consisted of four senior food marketing students: Cat Geruson and Catie Hoffman, who have accepted positions with Mars; Sarah Hoffman, who has accepted a position with Wegmans; and Alex Marcantonio, who will be joining E&J Gallo upon graduation. Job well done, ladies! THWND! 

Taking a walk into the sunset is Terry Spaulding, a lifer in the supermarket industry. In his 48year career Terry has only worked for two companies: Pantry Pride and Acme Markets. On February 22, he retired from Acme Markets as a center store ops managerHe worked for Pantry Pride from 1971 to 1979. He started working for Acme in 1979 and never looked back, holding multiple positions such as floral manager, customer service rep, co-manager, store director and grocery specialistEnjoy your retirement, Terry! We’ll miss seeing your smiling face at Acme events! 

Birthday shout outs for the windy month of March go to: Dan CroceSprouts Farmers MarketBill Sumas, Village Super MarketJeff Brown and Sandy Brown, Brown’s ShopRitesEd Burda, Utz SnacksBill Carter, Knauss FoodsDave Andrews, Kreider Farms; and Bob Unanue, Goya FoodsBuon compleanno a tutti! And just to make you all feel like time is really flying, the world wide web celebrates its 30th birthday this monthI can’t imagine the world without it. 


Quote of the month: “When a good woman stops being afraid, the devil turns and runs.” Patricia V. Davis 


Maria can be reached at