In & Around Food World

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December ushers in the season of celebrating and giving. The food industry has a long history of charitable giving to those in need. ShopRite Partners In Caring, a year-round-hunger fighting initiative of Keasbey, NJ-based Wakefern Food Corp., whose members operate stores under the ShopRite banner, has made a record donation of 100,000 pounds of turkeys, which will go to food banks in the retail cooperative’s Northeast market area. According to ShopRite Partners in Caring, the turkeys will help alleviate the increased need for fresh and healthy food in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which battered the East Coast and left behind a trail of destruction.

To date, the initiative has donated more than 700,000 pounds of frozen turkeys to food banks in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware,P ennsylvania and Maryland. Since it began in 1999, ShopRite Partners In Caring has donated $29 million to more than 1,700 charities.

Giant/Landover delivered 1,000 turkeys for needy families to the Capital Area Food Bank November 16. The donation from the 170-store Ahold USA division marked one of five to Feeding America food banks across the Mid-Atlantic region. The 5,000 turkeys helped provide Thanksgiving meals to thousands in Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

Speaking of the food bank, Lynn Brantley, president and CEO of the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) and the leader of hunger relief efforts in the Washington metro area since 1980, announced she will retire at the end of 2012.

“Lynn’s vision and passionate commitment to the mission of the Capital Area Food Bank have remained unchanged over the years – to feed the hungry with dignity, prevent food waste and save partner agencies countless dollars while they serve those most in need,” said CAFB chairman Greg Ten Eyck, Safeway, adding that Brantley will continue to serve the organization as president emeritus.

Chosen unanimously by the board, Brantley’s successor will be Nancy E. Roman, currently director of public/private partnerships and communications at the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP), the world’s largest humanitarian agency, feeding 100 million people in 75 countries. Roman will assume her new role as president and CEO on January 2.

In its early days CAFB was a small operation providing 1,537 pounds of food per month to a few thousand people. Today, it has 130 employees and distributes 33 million pounds of food a year – half of which is fresh produce – through 700 non-profit partner agencies in DC, Northern Virginia and Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties in Maryland.

Under Brantley’s leadership, the CAFB developed a comprehensive approach to addressing hunger by providing nutrition education and training; hosting hunger conferences; attracting some 18,000 volunteers to the food bank annually and advocating on behalf of those who rely on such programs as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which was previously known as the food stamp program.

The CAFB is a member of Feeding America, theWashingtonmetro area’s largest nonprofit food and nutrition education resource. To learn more, go to http://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/.

Sunbury, PA-based Weis Markets, which operates 162 stores, announced it will open its first LEED-certified store in Fogelsville, PA in December.

To achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, the new supermarket measurably reduces or mitigates its environmental impact in the following areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, material selection and indoor environmental quality.

The Fogelsville location will feature a larger perishable department, including a produce department with a greater selection of organic produce, an in-store cafe where beer will be sold and a full-service pharmacy, among other features.

In a related release, Weis Markets announced as part of its ongoing commitment to reducing its carbon footprint, a store-wide plan to use 100 percent recyclable modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) meat trays for its fresh meat products.

Weis has partnered exclusively with Clearly Clean Products, of Orwigsburg, PA, which specializes in custom thermo-formed packaging solutions. Weis began introducing the new meat packaging to its 162 stores for kabobs and ground sausage, and plans to extend the packaging to its ground beef product line in early 2013. The new recycled trays are made from 80 percent recycled #1 plastic and can be recycled by customers.

In 2012, Weis diverted more than 37 million pounds of recyclables from landfills, including 34 million pounds of cardboard, 280,000 pounds of office paper, 56,000 pounds of plastic pharmacy bottles, 528,000 pounds of waxed cardboard, 1.3 million pounds of plastic shopping bags and film plastics, and 1.5 million pounds of food waste.

IGA will host its Global Rally April 13-16, 2013 at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Chicago. According to Mark Batenic, CEO of IGA, the business sessions at the rally will focus on “where our industry is heading, exploring both the challenges and opportunities that will surface in independent retail in the coming months and years.”

The sessions will feature a combination of IGA retailers and industry speakers “to provide real solutions you can put in play immediately, as well as innovative ideas that help you prepare for long-term success,” he added.

Ahold USA will build a new meat-processing facility in Lower Allen Township, PA with funding assistance from the state of Pennsylvania. Ahold, parent of the Giant/Carlisle, Giant/Landover and Stop & Shop chains, will invest “at least $63 million” to build the new, 162,000-square-foot facility, which will be run by Wichita, KS-based Vantage Foods. Plans call for the hiring of 850 workers to staff the facility.

And a final good-by to Hostess Brands Inc., the 85-year old maker of such treats as Twinkies, Ding Dongs and pantry staples like Wonder Bread. The Irving, TX-based company, which filed for Chapter 11 for a second time in January, closed all factories. About 18,000-plus people will be out of work and it could result in more than 300 brands being sold or disappearing, including two of my favorites – Twinkies and Ring Dings.

Anniversary wishes go out to Russ and Joan Reynolds, Supervalu, their 38th; Michael and Juli Finkelstein, Associated Services, their 29th; Todd and Amy Sibel, Hook-Me-Up Marketing, their 19th; Jerry and Ligia Chadwick, Guest Services, their 35th; Mike and Monica Cavanaugh, Weider Sports and Nutrition, their 11th; and to our own Lou Rosenthal and his lovely wife, Mimi, we congratulate them on 67 wonderful years of marriage.

All of us at Best-Met Publishing thank our readers and advertisers for making 2012 an exciting and interesting year and for letting us be a part of this wonderful and crazy business. You are all terrific and very generous people. A very happy, healthy and joyous holiday season to each and every one of you.