Soup To Nutz

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“On the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, life will be peaches and cream,” so goes the song from the 1940s. Well, it was more like margaritas and pulled pork sliders as the Mid Atlantic Food Trades Organization (MAFTO) took over Margaritaville in Resorts Hotel and Casino, kicking off a fun-filled weekend honoring the Redner Family, past, present and future. The entire Redner clan came “down the shore” to celebrate the honor bestowed upon them by MAFTO. In addition to the fabulous kick-off party Friday night which featured dancing, a stilt-walking balloon artist and delicious fun food, on Saturday guests were treated to a cruise around Absecon and Brigantine islands or a “Funtastic” painting class with lunch led by Terry Brennan, wife of JJ Brennan, Inc.’s John Brennan.

The evening festivities began with a VIP cocktail party for gala sponsors, followed by another cocktail party (we in the food biz just love to party!) and a gala the likes of which we haven’t seen in quite some time. The food was delish, the music of the Fabulous Greaseband “had a beat and we could dance to it,” but the best part of the evening was the program. A video tribute to the “Chief” followed by memories from his granddaughter Alexis Foreman was touching. Gary Michael Redner had the audience in tears as he talked of his late father, Gary and his Uncle Dick and the role they played in his life. Following another video about the Redner organization, Ryan Redner spoke of the future of Redner’s Markets. All of the speeches were heartfelt and refreshingly genuine. Dick Redner has passed the torch to the third generation of Redners. It’s going to be interesting to see what moves they make in the ever-changing supermarket chess game. Following the speeches, more than $15,000 in scholarships were given out and a proclamation from Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to the Redner Family was read by emcee Charlie Poletti of Acosta. A tip of the hat to MAFTO president/gala chair Nancy Rodgers-Fluharty of Pace Target and her committee who did an awesome job putting the weekend together. Kick off the holidays at the next MAFTO event: the annual Christmas for All Kids/ Monte Carlo night on December 1. Since Williamson’s in Horsham, where the event has been held for the past few years, is about to become a Wawa, there is a new location, the Radisson Hotel on Route 1 in Bensalem, PA. Each attendee is asked to bring a new unwrapped toy which will be donated at the end of the evening to a few local charities including Sacred Heart Church in Camden, NJ. Gambling with funny money, a wide variety of prizes (including a Lagos bracelet), an open bar and buffet complete this enjoyable holiday get together. For more information, to register or to see photos from the gala honoring the Redner Family, please go to

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) held its 68th annual Fresh Summit in New Orleans last month with more than 19,000 attendees gathering to listen, learn about, and taste fruits and veggies from all over the world. More and more, this extravaganza maintains its relevance, with more than three days of seminars and presentations and 1,600 booths, many of which represent the international produce community. At the end of the expo, hundreds of exhibiting companies donated 312,490 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, and to food banks serving hurricane victims in the Gulf Coast and Florida. Floral exhibitors donated flowers and potted plants for distribution to food bank agencies for local hospitals. Save the date for 2018: October 18–20 in Orlando, FL. See you there!

Speaking of produce and making sure future generations learn to enjoy it, Produce for Kids was recently recognized by both Feeding America for its philanthropic efforts, and Feedspot, a popular blog ranking site, for providing online blog content that is helping create a healthier generation. Through in-store and online programs over the last 15 years, Produce for Kids has donated more than $6 million to charities like Feeding America that benefit families and children who are food insecure. In addition, the Produce for Kids website provides healthy recipes, tips and more to help busy families live healthier lives. Feeding America’s recognition as a mission partner is based on the substantial philanthropic investments Produce for Kids made in 2016 and 2017. The programs have provided more than 7 million meals to families in need through Feeding America and expects to provide 5.5 million meals over the next two years. In addition to the Feeding America recognition, Feedspot recognized the Produce for Kids blog as a Top 100 Kids Food Blog. Produce for Kids is listed along with Mom to Mom Nutrition, the blog owned by Katie Serbinski, the official registered dietitian at Produce for Kids. “Produce for Kids was founded on the idea of giving back. Being recognized as a Mission Partner by Feeding America is truly a big deal for us,” said Trish James, vice president, Produce for Kids. “We strive to continue to give back with every program we develop, but also remain in tune with our family audience by providing relevant online content to encourage the consumption of produce. Seeing the Produce for Kids name in the Top 100 Kids Food Blogs confirms our efforts are working.” With the success of the all-digital Power Your Lunchbox program over the first three years, Produce for Kids added a second activation in 2017 to re-inspire families heading back to school after the holiday season. This year, more than 533,000 meals were donated to families in need from a record-breaking 2017 Power Your Lunchbox digital program. The 2017 back-to-school program, which ran Aug. 7 to Sept. 22, 2017, alone saw 200 million impressions with 66.5 million impressions from the #PowerYourLunchbox social media hashtag. Across the U.S. and Canada, 27,072 families took the pledge, including 67 classrooms. “Our Power Your Lunchbox movement continues to grow year over year as we evolve the digital program along with our family audience,” continued James. “We are able to continue to provide relevant recipes and content for these busy time periods for families by recognizing that families are diverse and the bulk of time spent in the kitchen is not just on moms.” Power Your Lunchbox will relaunch in January to re-inspire families to eat a healthier lunch in the New Year.

As we reported in this month’s page 1 story, Wakefern held its annual shareholder meeting October 26 in East Brunswick, NJ. At the meeting, Joe Colalillo, chairman, announced the retirement of Larry Collins from Wakefern’s board of directors and the addition of Patrick J. Burns, CEO of Burns’ Family Neighborhood Markets, to the board. Good luck to both Larry and Pat, two longtime retail fixtures in the Philly retail scene.

We send out congratulations to Jack Larkin as he moves from broker life at JOH to a new role at Supervalu, where he is now account manager for Redner’s Markets. Jack has grown up in the food business as did his father, Gary Larkin, and I have no doubt he will be successful in his new endeavor. Have fun, Jack!

October seems to be more popular than June as the month to get married. We send out best wishes to Ashley Fanelli, Dietz & Watson and her husband Anthony Procopio on their October 6 wedding. After a two-week honeymoon in Italy, the Procopios are making their home in Vineland, NJ. Nancy Rodgers-Fluharty, Pace Target, and her husband Michael celebrated the weddings of two of their four children in October! Jessica Rodgers and Ben Nemeth were married on October 7, honeymooned in Punta Cana and now reside in Perkasie PA. Kristie Fluharty and Mark Carlin celebrated their wedding on October 21 and are delaying their honeymoon until next year. The newlyweds have settled in Barrington NJ. Raymundo’s Neil Brassell, his wife Elaine and their family celebrated daughter Melanie’s destination wedding to ??? at Dreams Punta Cana Resort and Spa over the weekend of November 4. Following the fun-filled wedding week, the newlyweds are living in Skippack. Auguri!

A special happy 95th birthday to Furmano Foods, a leading producer of tomatoes, beans and vegetables for retail and foodservice industries in the heart of Pennsylvania farmland. The company has been family-owned and family-run since its founding in 1921. Now under the leadership of the fourth generation, the company is still guided by the original values that made the Furmano’s name synonymous with quality and excellence, and continues to harvest nature’s goodness by producing great tasting, wholesome tomatoes, beans and vegetables. Cent’anni!

Birthday shout outs for the grateful month of November go to: John Saidnawey, JOH; Jim Mullen, Giant/Martin’s; Mike Mackin, Schmidt Baking; Curt Gruber, retired form Acosta; Mike Marano, Force One; Pat McCarthy, retired from Ocean Spray; Anthony Maglio, Maglio Sausage; and me, aging like fine wine! Buon compleanno a tutti!

As you gather with family and friends to celebrate this most American holiday, please remember and give to those who are food insecure, and say a prayer for our troops at home and abroad who continue to sacrifice every day for our way of life. Happy Thanksgiving!


Quote of the month: “The root of joy is gratefulness. It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” David Steindl-Rast