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As we went to press in November, Lidl opened its first store in New Jersey, with fanfare and a few hundred people waiting in line. They chose Vineland in a busy area just off Route 55 next to a ShopRite and across the street from a Walmart. Bold move one would think. The store looks just like the other Lidls in the surrounding states. As I wandered through the store, I asked customers for their first impressions. Most were positive, but it was evident by their baskets that they weren’t quite sure what to make of this new format. Employees were everywhere (for now) working hard to keep up with customer inquiries. Let’s check back after the holidays to see what the future holds for this store.

Giant/Martin’s recently announced that its signature holiday Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals fundraising campaign raised $700,244, a seven percent increase over 2016. The annual in-store Candles for Kids campaign was conducted from November 12 to 15. Company support for local CMN Hospitals has amounted to more than $42 million over the past 21 years. “Our customers generously donated to provide healthier futures for children in our local communities by donating more than $3 million in 2017,” said Tom Lenkevich, outgoing Giant/Martin’s president. “We are grateful for the enthusiasm of our associates and customers who open their hearts to support the good health of local children and their families.” Giant/Martin’s is one of the top 10 fundraisers in the country for CMN, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals across North America. In addition to the twice a year in-store campaigns, associates also regularly volunteer at CMN hospital events, including radio and television telethons. The CMN hospitals in our communities that benefited from the in-store campaign are Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, The Janet Weis Children’s Hospital at Geisinger.

If you ever wondered if it was possible to make pizza in space, Bimbo Bakeries – with its Boboli brand – has the answer: yes! Earlier this month, Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut currently stationed at the International Space Station, tweeted a video that went viral showing him and his fellow Expedition 53 crew mates making pizza in space. He had mentioned during a live public event that one of the things he missed most about Earth was the pizza. As a special surprise, the ISS crew sent all of the necessary ingredients to make pizza to the space station and the astronauts filmed themselves making their individual pizza creations in zero gravity. The astronauts created their favorite “out of this world” personal pizzas using Boboli pizza crusts. The original tweet has nearly 1,000 retweets and 2,500 likes, and the story picked up some major international media buzz. It’s fun to watch. Go to

It is truly the season for giving and few do it better than the folks at MAFTO with their Christmas for All Kids Monte Carlo, which this year was held on December 1 at the Radisson in Trevose, PA. Bill Schlosky of Utz chaired the event and did a wonderful job raising money for toys which were given to local charities. This year as in past years, toys were given to Sacred Heart Church in Camden, NJ. Also receiving donations of toys and donations for organizations to buy toys were: Angels in Motion, Philadelphia; Angels of God Clothing Closet, Pitman, NJ; Queen of Peace Church, Glenside, PA; and St. Mark Church, Bristol, PA. Whatever small act of kindness and charity each of us can do will make a difference in many lives this holiday season.

Save the date! Golden Slipper has chosen its Angel for 2018: Howard Klayman of Benjamin Foods. He will be feted on April 10 at the Fretz Kitchens Showroom in the Philadelphia Naval Yard. More details to follow.

As is so common this time of year, the circle of life has taken some of those we love.

Joseph Procacci, or “Papa Joe” as I affectionately called him, passed away after a battle with cancer. He was a consummate gentleman, one of the last of his generation: hard working, family oriented and well respected for not only his business acumen, but also for his charitable endeavors. It was heartwarming to see his family at the recent New York Produce Show and to meet his namesake grandson, Joseph, who has recently taken on a more visible profile. Not even a week after he passed away, his brother Michael passed on Thanksgiving night. Mike spent the day celebrating the holiday, as well as his upcoming 95th birthday surrounded by his family. Along with his brother Joe, he started Procacci Brothers Sales Corporation in the basement of their parents’ home in Camden, NJ. Like his brother, he was known for his love of family and his community.

Elena Poletti, mother of Charlie Poletti of Acosta Sales, passed away on December 11 in Glen Burnie, MD. She was 91 years young. Elena was preceded in death by her husband John Poletti Sr., and her siblings Vincenzo DeLuca, Angelino DeLuca and Lucia Deluca. In addition to Charlie, she is survived by her son John Poletti of Winston-Salem, NC; her brother Victorio De Luca of Italy; four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 15829 Arlington, VA 22215. Rest in peace.

Birthday shout-outs for the glistening month of December go to: Larry Rothwell, Pennington Quality Market; Paul McGurkin, ESM Integrity; Jay Gordon, Sales Management Partners; Dorothy Hamilton and Sue Rorke-Lawler, Acme Markets; Linda Naddeo, HP Hood; Lane Gordon, Key Impact Foods; and special birthday wishes to Jack Zumba, retired from White Rose, who celebrates 80 years this month. The man never ages. Buon compleanno a tutti!

Merry Christmahanakwanzika from all of us at Food Trade News. This holiday season, find joy in the gift of family and friends and enjoy continued health and happiness in 2018. Please be sure to include those less fortunate and our troops at home and abroad in your prayers and good deeds. Peace, good health and prosperity in 2018! Buon’ anno!

Quote of the month: “Leave the past to the past. Celebrate the here and the now. Open the present.” Gina Barreca