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The devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy has been all but forgotten in other areas around the country. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, however, the scars remain and it is taking much more time to heal than anyone could have ever expected. The retailers in the hardest hit areas have been there all along for the residents, their support never waning. Continuing their support, ShopRite presented a donation of $20,000 worth of gift cards to Ocean County, NJ-based organizations this month as part of its pledge to donate $1 million in both food and funds to assist in the relief efforts for those struggling in the wake of Sandy. St. Francis Center of Long Beach Island, King of Kings Church in Manahawkin and OCEAN, Inc. of Toms River were on hand February 12 at the ShopRite of Waretown, NJ, to accept the donated gift cards, which are earmarked for those most affected by the storm. The Perlmutter family, which owns the ShopRite of Waretown, along with six other ShopRites in Ocean County, has been providing local relief organizations food to feed first responders, rescuers and re-builders every day since the storm hit. “Supporting our Ocean County neighbors and friends as we all work together to rebuild our communities has been our primary focus since the early days after the storm,” said Joel Perlmutter, president of Perlmart, Inc. “We are honored to extend our support to those who continue these efforts with a donation of ShopRite gift cards to be put right into the hands of those who need them most.”

The Salvation Army and A&P have partnered to provide recovery services for Hurricane Sandy survivors through a newly opened emergency assistance center in OceanCounty. This effort is not the beginning of The Salvation Army’s disaster response to Hurricane Sandy in OceanCounty. It is the next phase as the people of the Jerseyshore move into long-term recovery. Previous response efforts provided by The Salvation Army included mobile feeding units and distribution of cleaning supplies, warm drinks and snacks via ATVs throughout the area. The space for this center has been made available by the generosity of A&P. “As a part of the Ortley Beach neighborhood for nearly 46 years, we are honored to donate our space to the Salvation Army so they may assist our neighbors during this difficult time,” said Sam Martin, president and CEO of A&P. “Through our partnership with the Salvation Army, hundreds of families will receive vital resources they need as they recover from Hurricane Sandy.”

Along those same lines, the Mid Atlantic Food Trades Organization (MAFTO) is hosting its first ever community service project. The organization is seeking volunteers to help plant dune grass in Avalon, NJ on April 20. “This is our first opportunity to reach out and help a community with a need for volunteers,” said Mike Mackin, Schmidt Baking Co. and vice president of MAFTO. “Each volunteer is welcome to bring a friend, relative, etc. to join us and make this a fun and rewarding day.” There will be a bus fromPhiladelphia leaving at 7:00 a.m., or volunteers can meet up with the bus at theAvalonCommunity Center at 8:15-8:30 a.m. More details will follow. Keep it here for more about the food industry pulling together, as we always do…to restore theJersey shore!

The NASFT held its 38th Winter Fancy Food Show in mid-January inSan Francisco.Chosenas the top emerging trends for the coming months are: Botanical beverages, oil nouveau (sighting oils from new sources such as tomato seeds and coconuts), blue cheese, seeds and bananas in every way they can be made. Other trends identified are fruit-infused vinegars, chips with a healthy glow such asFujiapple chips, peppery sweets such as cayenne shortbread, agave, and single-serve sizes.

It seems that every day we are hearing something new from a retailer and/or a CPG company announcing additions to social media marketing plans. It’s a necessity for each of them to keep up with the “digital natives” (shoppers under the age of 35) as they become the most sought after consumers. Foodtown has jumped into the game, launching a new mobile app for shoppers, helping the independent Foodtown stores stay on the cutting edge of technology so they remain competitive within the industry. By providing mobile access, all of the stores within the Foodtown co-op are able to reach more digital consumers who are on the go and constantly connected to their mobile devices. The new customized app, powered by MyWebGrocer, lets consumers shop the stores’ circular, build a shopping list and check items off as they shop, locate stores, add coupons, and discover recipes. All of these features help Foodtown’s independent grocers attract new customers and remain up-to-date with modern digital tools that save both time and money.

The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association(IDDBA) has announced the speaker lineup for its Dairy-Deli-Bake 2013, which will be held June 2-4 in Orlandoat the OrangeCountyConvention Center. This year’s speakers include: Bill O’Reilly, Brett Favre, Alton Brown, Jim Gaffigan, Marcus Buckingham, Lowell Catlett, Carmine Gallo, Erik Qualman, Harold Lloyd, Voni Woods, Jack Li, and of course, my yearly favorite, Carol Christison, who will no doubt have another new “Carol-ism” describing the latest trends in the industry. On another IDDBA note, the next application deadline for the IDDBA Food Safety Certification Reimbursement Program is June 1, 2013, for training completed March 1-April 30. The IDDBA reimburses a portion of expenses to IDDBA-member retailer companies that certify dairy, deli, and bakery department-level managers and associates in food safety. Since the program began in July 2003, retailers have received reimbursements totaling about $224,000 for certifying 6,000 managers and associates. There are six FSCRP application deadlines each year for the previous testing period. More information, including the application deadline dates and corresponding testing periods, and an online or printable application, are available at www.iddba.org/certification.aspx

The new year continues to bring new beginnings and that is true for the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC), which held its annual business meeting at the Woodbridge Hilton in Iselin, NJon January 24. Sworn in as officers for the second year of their two year terms were: Judy Spires, Kings Food Markets, vice chair; Richard Saker, Saker ShopRites, secretary; Mike Rothwell, Pennington Quality Market, treasurer; and Phil Scaduto, Food Circus Supermarkets, chair. Linda Doherty will continue in her role as president. Not in attendance for the swearing in was Joseph McCarthy, Bimbo Bakeries, associate vice chair. The council will honor three of its own at the annual Night of Distinction on March 21. Being feted are Mike Rothwell of Pennington Quality Market, Lou Scaduto of Food Circus Supermarkets and Jason Ravitz of Supermarkets of Cherry Hill. For more information please go to www.njfoodcouncil.org

The Eastern Frosted and Refrigerated Foods Association (EFRA) also began 2013 with the election of new board of directors. The board unanimously elected the following members as officers: Bob Bollbach of RDD as president; Paul Raguso of Gorton’s as first vice president; Pat Longo of Acosta as second vice president; Sue Brooks of King Kullen as third vice president; Hans Ketels of Kings Food Markets as secretary; and Ken Atkinson of Douglas Sales as treasurer. Congratulations all around.

Continuing the circle of life, we send our congratulations to Gina Ciccotelli Cristino and husband Maurice, Cento Fine Foods on the birth of their daughter Valentina Noel on Christmas Day. Baby Valentina was welcomed home by big brother Mauritzio and is the granddaughter of Rick and Linda Ciccotelli and great granddaughter of “Mr. C”, Al Ciccotelli, all of Cento.

Birthday shout outs for the sweet month of February go out to: Gary Canuso, Turkey Hill; “Big Bob” DiMento, Brandywine Marketing; Bill Schlosky, Utz Snacks; BJ Zellers, Crane Communications; Neil Brassell, Country Pure Foods; Best-Met’s Kevin Gallagher; and a special shout out to my daughter, Rosalie Marfuggi, who celebrates 22 years this month! Buon Compleanno a tutti!

Quote of the month: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Albert Einstein

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