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

As we ease into the autumnal months, reports for the U.S. Northwest are indicating a good crop of pears and apples this year due to favorable spring weather and a mild summer. As demand increases for these fruits and almost anything plant based, new diverse varieties are making it easier for growers to fill the demand. That being said, the Honeycrisp apple is still king!

September has been deemed both National Fruits and Veggies Month and National Family Meals Month, which pair up nicely as kids return to their daily grind of school and extracurricular activities. From Produce for Kids developing new recipes for “ants on logs” to Produce for Better Health Foundation challenging consumers to eat more produce every day to lift their mood and giving advice on exactly how to achieve that, we should all be a little bit healthier come 2020. The goal of National Family Meals Month is to have one more meal together, at home, per week. According to the Food Marketing Institute Foundation, family meals eaten at home have been proven to benefit the health and wellness of children and adolescents, to fight obesity and substance abuse, and to make families stronger. Of course, the retailers are jumping on the bandwagon. For example, Weis Markets announced free in-store dietitian workshops taking place throughout the month of September, as well as the launch of a special edition to its Healthy Bites Magazine and podcast. Weis Markets’ team of six registered in-store dietitians is hosting special National Family Meals Month themed events for adults and kids throughout the month. Classes and workshops will be geared toward meal planning, easy cooking hacks for fast family meals and budget-friendly shopping. Event details can be found on “National Family Meals Month is the perfect time for our team to provide our customers guidance and tools to shop, cook and eat healthfully as a family,” said Weis Markets lifestyle initiatives manager Beth Stark. “Our in-store workshops and special edition to our Healthy Bites Magazine showcase different recipes that are easy for the entire family to make and enjoy together.”

Along with the in-store workshops and a special edition of Healthy Bites Magazine, two members of the dietitian team, Stark and Kathryn Long, are hosting the first two episodes of their bi-weekly podcast, Weis Healthy Bites, the first was on September 10 and another will air September 24. Both dietitians have years of radio experience and are excited to share inspiring nutrition and lifestyles messages with listeners. Their second episode will focus on meal planning and kitchen hacks in celebration of National Family Meals Month. Also, the Weis Markets Lifestyle team will hold a Facebook Live event in partnership with the Pennsylvania Beef Council on September 12 as well as share weekly recipe solutions on its Facebook page.


ShopRite is also celebrating National Family Meals Month by engaging its team of in-store dietitians to help customers create and enjoy nutritious and delicious family meals. They have dedicated a page on their website for shoppers to access recipes and events: “ShopRite has always believed that one of the keys to healthy eating is finding ways to enjoy more meals at home,” says Natalie Menza-Crowe, MS, RD, director of health and wellness at ShopRite. “We’re proud to expand the reach of our award-winning Family Meals Month campaign this year by focusing on in-store activities, and we’re looking forward to helping our shoppers find fun, easy and delicious ways to share meals together during the month of September and all year round.” The theme of this year’s campaign, “From Our Family to Yours,” highlights the 50 individual families who own and operate 276 ShopRite supermarkets located across the states they serve. The campaign shares their favorite tips to help shoppers find convenient, unique and affordable meal solutions at their local supermarket.

“Our owners live and work in the communities that their stores are located in,” says Menza-Crowe. “They understand the ever-changing challenges of balancing work and home lives, and are committed to helping shoppers find healthy meal solutions that offer variety, flexibility and value.” Dietitians are hosting free food demonstrations, classes and events all geared toward assisting customers in finding meal solutions all month long. Additionally, the supermarket is supporting the campaign via distribution of free recipe books, social media content, broadcast TV commercials, weekly circular promotions, digital ads, dedicated online pages and outdoor billboard ads. Locally in the Delaware Valley, Shawn Ravitz’s family is featured in TV commercials making a “Taco Tuesday” family meal. “We’re especially proud of this year’s campaign because we know that encouraging our customers to enjoy more family meals together is something that has a lasting and real effect on the communities we serve,” says Menza-Crowe. “Research has shown that as a result of Family Meals Month campaigns taking place across the nation, families are cooking more meals at home, making healthier food choices, and eating together more often. We’re extremely grateful to have the opportunity to help our customers discover the joy and lasting benefits of enjoying more meals together.”

In recognition of National Hunger Action Month, Giant/Martin’s announced that its customers generously raised $780,676 to support local hunger relief efforts during the bi-annual Bag Hunger campaign.  The company’s signature Bag Hunger Campaign ran from August 25 through September 7 across all Giant and Martin’s stores. “Hunger is something communities and families face 365 days a year. As a company, we work year-round to eliminate hunger, but during National Hunger Action Month, our associates really step up their efforts to raising funds and awareness for this serious issue,” said John Ponnett, senior vice president of retail operations at Giant/Martin’s. “We are deeply grateful to our amazing customers who donate each year and bring us closer to our goal of eliminating hunger in the communities we serve.” According to Feeding America each dollar raised helps provide at least 10 meals, meaning that the funds raised during Giant/Martin’s Bag Hunger campaign will fund more than 7.8 million meals. Funds raised during the campaign go to more than 100 hunger-relief partners, including food pantries across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Major recipient food banks include Philabundance, Second Harvest Food Bank, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, York County Food Bank, State College Food Bank, ProJeCt of Easton, Maryland Food Bank, and Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Throughout September, GIANT associates will volunteer and make donations at select food banks and pantries to celebrate the contributions.  The Bag Hunger Campaign is only one of many ways that the company helps end hunger in the communities it serves. Visit the Giant or Martin’s websites to learn more about the company’s hunger relief programs. Since 2008, Giant/Martin’s Bag Hunger fundraising campaigns have raised more than $12 million.


Each year, Acme Markets and the Acme Foundation have proudly supported Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation by participating in Alex’s Lemonade Days to help raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer. In the spirit of Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, Acme presented a $350,029 donation check from the funds raised during the 2019 Lemonade Days Campaign to Liz Scott of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.  One hundred sixty-four Acme stores built and staffed lemonade stands for the annual two-week campaign. The check presentation took place on September 20, at the Acme in Paoli, PA on Philadelphia’s Main Line. Since 2013, Acme has raised more than $1 million dollars for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to help their quest to find the cure for pediatric cancer. Congratulations!

This item should be of interest to many of the manufacturers in our area who shy away from doing larger, national shows due to high participation costs. The International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) has announced a new opportunity to exhibit alongside IDDBA trends and the New Product Showcase at IDDBA 20 in what they are calling “The Visionary Pavilion – The Future Today! New Products. New Companies. New Growth.” IDDBA is debuting this area dedicated to introducing new companies and new products to the dairy, deli and bakery community. Located near registration, this area will be the gateway to the show floor and will be about growing the future of new products, companies, and trends. The booths in the Visionary Pavilion will be cost effective for smaller companies: a 6’x8’ booth at a cost of $1,200 (corner booths are an additional $250). The rules: to be an exhibitor in The Visionary Pavilion, companies must be new to exhibiting at IDDBA. There is a limit of two years of being able to exhibit there. The booth package includes the usual amenities including some refrigerated storage space. Space is limited and will be based on availability and at IDDBA’s discretion. For more information about The Visionary Pavilion, contact the exhibits team at 608.310.5000. IDDBA 20 will take place in Indianapolis, IN, May 31 to June 2, 2020.

The Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Network of Executive Women (NEW) is “Engaging Men in the Movement” at its fall 2019 Learning Event & Silent Auction. The workshop is designed for both companies and individuals to create action plans around gender-inclusive company cultures. The Hershey Company, 19 E Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA, is hosting the event, Monday, November 4, from 3:00-6:00 p.m. The featured guest speaker is Jeffery Tobias Halter, president of YWomen, gender strategist, and former director of diversity strategy for the Coca-Cola Company. The event also touts an excellent silent auction with many fun and useful items! NEW is a 12,000-member women’s leadership community serving retail, CPG, financial services and tech. Their mission is to advance women, grow business and transform our industry’s workplace through the power of our community. Go to to learn more about NEW benefits and membership, and to register for the event.

My dear friend Jan Gabriel of Paul Nester and Son brokerage, underwent some extensive surgery about a month ago. His recovery has been relatively quick, enough to allow him to escape the house and go to lunch with his partner Gary Larkin after just a few weeks at home under the watchful eye of his wife Helen.  Jan, praying for your complete recovery and looking forward to seeing you out and about again in the trade. Get well soon!

Birthday shout outs for the Indian summer month of September go to: Anthony Gigliotti, Boyer’s Markets; Ed Elborne, Mt. Olive Pickle Company; Nick Sborlini and Anne Marie Mozzone, Acme Markets; Fran Dolan, Herr Foods; Lauren Eni, Dietz & Watson; and Joe Gardyan, Utz Snacks. Buon compleanno a tutti!

Quote of the month: “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” Albert Einstein