Soup To Nutz

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March has stayed true to its tradition of coming in like a lion. Wouldn’t it be a nice Easter present for it to go out like a lamb…or a bunny rabbit?

It doesn’t happen too often that our overstored market gets a new ground-up store, but on March 1, the Ammons Family opened a ShopRite in the food desert neighborhood of Wissonoming in Northeast Philadelphia. Visible from I95 and serving as the anchor of a $29 million (and still quite empty) shopping center, the ShopRite will employ 300 part time and full time workers. Larry Ammons, president of Ammons Supermarkets, became a Wakefern member in 2000. Joining him in this venture was his wife Debra and their children Melissa, Ben and Pete. The family’s first store was the ShopRite of Aramingo Avenue in Philadelphia. Their Mullica Hill, NJ store followed a few years later. This new store has had its challenges. Pete Ammons stated, “Despite the challenging business climate in the city since the beverage tax was implemented, our family made a decision to move forward with this new store and keep our commitment to the community.” There is not another supermarket within a half mile of this store and, although they will not offer ShopRite from Home at this location, the store is fresh, modern and – a lot like Philly – a store of neighborhoods. The Northeast Philly Butcher has much to offer, but no service meat counter as the fish department does. The pharmacy is carved out in white and the aisles are clear of floor diplays as has become the practice in many ShopRite stores. Instead, in the back of the store, pallets were lined up with shippers. Being a city store with many customers walking to do their shopping, individual wheeled shopping carts were for sale close to the check-out area. A woman purchased one the spot. “This is going to be great,” she said. Welcome to the neighborhood, ShopRite.

Giant/Martin’s recently announced a $1 million donation divided between three local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals partners in the form of grants awarded during Children’s Hospitals Week in Orlando, FL. The donation is part of Giant/Martin’s 95th anniversary celebration, with events happening throughout 2018. “We are honored to mark 95 years of caring for our communities by supporting our partner hospitals of Children’s Miracle Network with these special grants,” said Nick Bertram, president. “We passionately believe in giving back, and we are especially committed to the health of our customers and their families.” The grants have been awarded to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia ($570,000), Penn State Children’s

Hospital Hershey ($280,000) and Geisinger Medical Center ($150,000) and will be used for specific needs as identified by each hospital. These include support for the Child Advocacy Center at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital so that 100 percent of children referred to the center will receive coordinated forensic interviews, victim advocacy and mental health services as appropriate. The Giant Food Stores Welcome Desk at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) will welcome 10,000 patients from nine specialty programs during the day and 12,225 urgent care visits on nights and weekends. This gift will enhance the patient and family experience at all three urgent care sites, helping CHOP plan for the unplanned. Penn State Children’s Hospital will receive support for 3D printing and modeling for congenital heart disease. In addition to enhanced clinical care for patients and ongoing clinical research, the use of 3D printed cardiac models will also assist medical students and residents in their education about congenital heart disease. “We are so grateful for Giant’s continued commitment to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and its partnership with our member hospitals,” said John Lauck, president and CEO of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “We are excited that Giant has identified these hospitals that support their local communities and made an additional commitment to the treatment of sick and injured children.”

The announcement was made during Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ Live-A-Thon on March 8 hosted by celebrity guests. Since 1997, Giant/Martin’s has raised more than $42 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Keep up the good work!

The New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) recently announced that Dan Croce, senior vice president of operations for Acme Markets, will present the keynote address during the organization’s 2018 Trade Relations Conference to be held on May 16 at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. Croce will speak on the state of the food industry. Craig Coyle, director of sales at Bimbo Bakeries USA, will be honored with the NJFC Max Stone Trade Relations Award, named in honor of the longtime trade relations leader for Best Foods, CPC in recognition of his accomplished career in trade relations in New Jersey. Coyle is being recognized for his years of hard work and volunteerism to NJFC. Linda Doherty, NJFC president, said, “Craig Coyle is a consummate trade relations professional. His commitment to the Food Council and dedication to the advancement of trade relations in the food industry is exceptional. This recognition represents our appreciation of his outstanding efforts.” As is tradition, the conference will conclude with a golf outing at Galloway National Golf Club on May 17 beginning at 9:00 a.m.

The International Dairy Deli Bakery Association’s (IDDBA) annual tradeshow, IDDBA ‘18 is just around the corner. This year’s show will be held in New Orleans June 10-12 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. In addition to walking the show floor filled with new products and leading decision makers, attendees will hear from entrepreneurs, business leaders, authors, and influencers through powerful learning experiences that can be put into immediate practice. These speakers inspire and offer insight into business, trends, personal growth, and success. Included in this year’s lineup are: Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers; Daymond John of FUBU (and Shark Tank shark); actor Michael J. Fox; U.S. Navy fighter pilot Carey Lohrenz; and – recently added – newly appointed Albertsons president and COO Jim Donald,who will be speaking on the show floor at the Show and Sell Showcase.

The Network of Executive Women (NEW) is hosting two spring learning events this year. The first is being held on Tuesday, April 17, 3:00-6:00 p.m. at Penn State University, Harrisburg campus. The second will follow on Wednesday, May 9 3:00-6:00 p.m. at Saint Joseph’s University in the Haub School of Business.

An insights panel from leaders across NEW’s partner organizations will share their personal stories of overcoming challenges within career progression and insights on how they overcome and address these challenges today. The events are open to professional men and women who would like to connect with other professionals in the area, emerging leaders, and executives in the CPG industry. To register, go to

More than 200 school foodservice professionals and business administrators from around New Jersey participated in the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s (NJDA) second Farm to School Summit that took place on March 13 at the Robert Wood Johnson Conference Center in Mercerville. The summit featured remarks from NJDA Secretary Douglas Fisher, as well as panel discussions and breakout sessions about various segments of a farm to school program during the day-long event. “New Jersey Farm to School is an ever-growing opportunity to promote and make connections for fresh healthy foods produced by our farmers in the Garden State to go into schools in every district,” Fisher said. “The Department of Agriculture Farm to School Summit highlights the ways in which schools can be successful at this most important program.”

The summit takes place to provide school administrators, educators, community members and school food nutrition directors a variety of ways to encourage students to try produce that they might not normally have available. The topics discussed included school gardens, school culinary programs, ways to connect students to taste tests, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and the brand new Jersey Tastes! Program. NJDA division of food and nutrition director Rose Tricario was encouraged by the event’s attendance. “It is wonderful to see so many school representatives have such a high interest in Farm to School,” Tricario said. “The whole idea of knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown allows children to have proper nutrition now and provides the opportunity for them to continue healthy eating habits for the rest of their lives.” Hundreds of New Jersey schools are practicing those healthy habits. In a survey sent to school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program in New Jersey, 255 schools said they purchase some local produce from their main distributor, 223 districts said they purchase local produce directly from farms, 212 districts said they connect curriculum that ties cafeteria meals to healthy eating education and 114 districts said they organize field trips to farms. The NJDA’s Farm to School Program started a new initiative at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year called Jersey Tastes! The program features one fruit or vegetable a month and provides resources for schools to encourage students to try produce that is available during the growing season in New Jersey. The interactions at the Farm to School Summit also allowed those in attendance to exchange ideas and create relationships which are important part in supporting the initiatives.

Congrats to Vic Savanello, who has just been named vice president of merchandising of produce for The Fresh Market. Vic has been in the biz for more than 30 years and will bring his extensive knowledge to the Greensboro, NC based chain.

Good friend and partial Arctic animal Domenic Botto of Botto’s Sausage participated in the polar plunge in Sea Isle City this past month. Looking like The Rock in his patriotic swimsuit, he says he’s still defrosting from that dip in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s all for a good cause – the proceeds benefit events sponsored by the Sea Isle City Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization.

Birthday shout outs for the roaring month of March go to: Dan Croce, Acme Markets; Bill Sumas, Village Supermarkets; Jeff Brown and Sandy Brown, Brown’s ShopRites; Ed Burda, Utz; Bill Carter, Knauss Foods; Dave Andrews, Kreider Farms; Bob Unanue, Goya Foods; and Maura Shenker, SJU. Buon compleanno a tutti!

As we head into the month of April, Passover and Easter fall in the same week this year. To all of our readers celebrating in the coming weeks, enjoy the holidays with family and friends.

Quote of the month: “And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” Stephen Hawking