SOUP TO NUTZ

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 maria@foodtradenews.com.

We’re now into the third heat wave of the summer of 2019 and it’s only July. Most of us will beat the heat with cool drinks and refreshing snacks and we won’t think twice about it. But did you know that approximately 400,000 children in the Delaware Valley who receive meals during the school year face uncertainty about whether they will have enough to eat during the summer? In late June, Philabundance announced that it will nearly triple the number of free summer meals it is offering for children this year, providing meals to kids who lose their school breakfast and lunch during summer vacation. “For hundreds of thousands of kids across the Delaware Valley, summer vacation is not just a break from school, but also from the reliability of school meals,” explained Philabundance executive director Glenn Bergman. “Kids should go to bed tired out from summer fun, not hungry.” To help fill that gap, the LunchBox program will provide 57,000 meals to children 18 years and younger through the end of August, thanks to the generosity of Giant/Martin’s, which recently made the largest one-time corporate donation Philabundance has ever received. Each week, free and nutritious meals with items like wraps, fruits, veggies and milk will be available at Philabundance partner agencies; some meals will be fresh, while others are shelf-stable, with items like barbecue chicken, fruit cups, hummus dip, and more. LunchBox items are prepared by students at the Philabundance Community Kitchen (PCK), a culinary job training program for adults with low-to-no income. Distribution locations are available on Philabundance’s website. “Food insecurity is a problem in every community, and it’s something we take very seriously at Giant, more so when it effects our children,” said John Ruane, senior vice president of merchandising at Giant/Martin’s and Philabundance board member. “In this fourth year of supporting the LunchBox Program, we couldn’t be more appreciative of our long-standing partnership with Philabundance and value each other’s mission to end hunger in the region. By working together on this and several other initiatives, we are helping make a difference where it matters most.” Philabundance serves 90,000 people each week, 30 percent of whom are children. It cannot achieve its mission of driving hunger from our communities today and ending hunger for good without the support of organizations, corporations and the general public. A few new partners are the Police Athletic League (PAL) of Philadelphia, the Narberth Community Food Pantry and Greene Street Friends School. Although Philabundance is excited to have the LunchBox program, it is just one of many hunger-fighting organizations that offer summer meals for children. The Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger’s Summer Meals Map can help youth locate free summer meal sites in their neighborhoods. For more information on how to help, please visit www.philabundance.org/summer-hunger.

Giant/Martin’s annual in-store Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals balloon campaign, conducted June 23 through July 6, has raised $710,634. The donations were primarily raised $1 at a time, with customers of Giant and Martin’s Food Markets donating at the register during checkout. “Our customers and associates have continued to generously support the work of CMN year after year in helping to save and improve the lives of children in our local communities,” said John Ponnett, senior vice president of retail operations. “With every donation, they are helping the CMN Hospital in their local community build new treatment facilities, purchase special equipment needed in the care of young patients and conduct groundbreaking research, helping to make miracles happen for the families who need them most.” Gian/Martin’st is one of the top 15 fundraisers in the country for CMN. Customers, associates, and vendor partners have donated more than $45 million over the past 22 years in support of programs and services at local CMN Hospitals including Penn State Children’s Hospital, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and The Janet Weis Children’s Hospital at Geisinger. Good job!

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College education is a huge expense, as many of us with children know. The two associations representing the retail food and vendor industry in Pennsylvania and New Jersey recognize this and have created scholarship programs over the years to offset these expenses. The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) has announced the winners of the 2019 Thomas R. and Laura Ridge Scholarship. An independent judging panel selected 21 students based on academic record, school and community involvement, an essay and recommendations from school and work.

“We’re extremely grateful for the member companies who donated to the Ridge Fund Endowment, which allows us to continue this wonderful scholarship program,” PFMA president and CEO Alex Baloga said. “Congratulations to this year’s talented and hard-working recipients. We wish them the best of luck as they continue their educational journey.” Recipients are sponsored by PFMA member organizations including Wawa, Karns, Sheetz and Giant/Martin’s as well as PFMA and the Northwestern PA Food Council (NWPFC). Each scholar received between $2,000 and $2,500 for use in their higher education pursuits. In all, $44,000 was distributed through the program. The Ridge Scholarship honors former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge’s father, who was a member of the food industry for 25 years, and his mother Laura, who was a great advocate of education for Tom Ridge, his brother David and sister Vikki. PFMA, the Northwestern Pennsylvania Food Council and the Pittsburgh Association of Manufacturers Representatives hosted dinners through the years to raise money for the fund, which is now an endowment. Since 1996, 556 students have received the Ridge Scholarships, totaling more than $1.1 million. For the full list, go to www.pfma.org. Congratulations!

The New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) recently hosted a special event to honor the 2019 scholarship recipients from its Educational Development Scholarship Foundation at Forsgate Country Club in Monroe, NJ. The recipients and their families were joined by members of the board of directors as well as company sponsors of the individual scholarship awards. Since the inception of the scholarship program in 2011, the three NJFC scholarships have grown from $2,000 to $5,000 each and now the foundation manages an additional 16 member-supported scholarships. In all, 19 scholarships were awarded this year totaling $62,000. “We continue to be impressed with how significantly our scholarship program has expanded over the last few years and the impact it has had in these students,” said NJFC president and CEO Linda Doherty. “The growth of our scholarship program since 2011 is a rewarding benefit to our members and their families. The overwhelming support of our members and the opportunity to make such a meaningful contribution to the lives of these associates and their families makes this one of the most rewarding programs we offer. We congratulate this year’s winners and their families on a job well done and encourage our recipients to pursue their careers with purpose, passion and pride.” For the complete list of winners, please go to www.NJfoodcouncil.org.

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Having trouble finding day trips this summer for the family? The creative folks at the Mid Atlantic Food Trade Organization (MAFTO) have lined up some sweet deals at Dorney Park in Allentown, PA. Discounted admission tickets on Family Fun Days are available July 26-28 and August 9-11. The Fun Feast is on Sunday, September 22 and includes parking, admission plus a “feast” in the afternoon. For details and pricing, go to www.dorneypark.com/mafto. More MAFTO events are coming up this fall. For information and to register go to www.mafto.org.

Taking a walk into the sunset is Bob Kuhn, who retired from National Food Sales after 18 years of service. Bob started his career in the brokerage business in 1979 in foodservice sales with Bonstadt Coale Co. He worked for the Boerner Company for two years and then worked for Brown, DelGrosso, Morrison where he was the director of meat and deli. When the company became part of Marketing Specialists, Bob moved to National Food Sales (NFS) as an account executive and spent the remainder of his career there. He is a former member of the Tri State Dairy-Deli Association and the Philadelphia Food Trade Organization. National Food Sales wanted to make sure to thank Bob for his years of hard work and wish him all the best. Happy trails, Bob!

Birthday shout outs for the patriotic month of July go to: Mike Rothwell, Pennington Market; Joe Fantozzi, Allegiance Retail Services; Jim McCaffrey III, McCaffrey’s Markets; Maurice Christino, Cento Foods; Wayne Couts, Burris Logistics; Dr. Joe D’Angelo, SJU and special 30th birthday wishes to my son, Gino Marfuggi. Buon compleanno a tutti!

Quote of the month: “Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” Sam Keen