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Call it Frankenstorm, Superstorm, the Perfect Storm or just plain old Sandy, the devastation that hit the Mid-Atlantic and Metro New York markets in the last days of October will remain in our memories for years to come, probably replacing the winter storm of 1962 as the worst storm the shore has ever experienced. As is so customary in all areas of the food business, our people have stepped up not only to help each other, but to help those who lost so much. Ahold announced on November 8 donations totaling $2.5 million from the companies and their charitable foundation, Our Family Foundation, to the American Red Cross. The donations are being made to support Hurricane Sandy disaster recovery and clean up efforts helping families affected by the recent storm, with an emphasis on the hardest hit areas in New Jersey, New Yorkand Connecticut. In addition, Stop & Shop stores in New Yorkand New Jerseyare serving as drop-off points for canned and packaged food. Stop & Shop and the other supermarket companies of Ahold USA have partnered with the American Red Cross to establish micro-sites that provide a trusted way for associates, customers and vendors to designate a donation to local Red Cross disaster relief efforts underway in their respective communities. Individuals are encouraged to visit www.StopandShop.com and click on the Red Cross link if they are interested in making a donation. All of the monies collected will be donated to local hurricane relief efforts. “One of the main charitable giving missions of Ahold USA and its companies is building healthy communities and today’s donation will go a long way to helping customers rebuild disrupted lives and devastated communities,” said Carl Schlicker, chief operating officer, Ahold USA. “We are extremely thankful to our associates and vendors who went above and beyond to help us serve our customers before, during and now in the aftermath of the storm.”

Wakefern also announced on November 8 that, on behalf of its ShopRite and PriceRite stores, it will donate up to $1 million in both funds and in-kind donations to assist in the relief efforts for those struggling in the wake of super stormSandy.

The company’s support will focus on regional food banks in the areas its stores serve throughout the Northeast who are providing meals and other assistance to those who have been displaced from their homes. “The areas hardest hit by the storm are at the center of where our stores are located and our associates live. Many of those devastated by Sandyare our friends and neighbors. Reaching out and providing meals and other supplies remains our primary focus and effort in the days following the storm, said Joseph Colalillo, chairman and CEO. “To that end, Wakefern has committed $1 million in funds and in-kind donations to help aid in post-storm relief and recovery.”

In the hours following the storm, individual stores began addressing the needs of their communities, donating food, water and ice to local charities and government agencies. As relief efforts progressed, truckloads of food, water and prepared meals have been dispatched from Wakefern’s warehouses to regional food banks that are on the front line of relief efforts. “In difficult times like these, we often find that the greatest need emerges in the weeks and months following a devastating event,” said Joe Sheridan, president and COO. “As our communities begin to recover from the impact of this storm, we will work to ensure that our support reaches our neighbors who have been most severely impacted.”

In addition, the NASFT has posted a Hurricane Sandy Relief Center on its website, www.specialtyfood.com, where its member companies may reach out with status updates or requests for assistance.

The AMR/MAFTO dinner dance honoring AWI’s Christopher Michael scheduled for the weekend of November 2 was postponed until the weekend of March 15-17 2013.

I personally donated two huge bags of winter clothing at the Ravitz ShopRite in Marlton, NJ about a week ago. There was a pile in the more than 10 feet high of bags filled with winter coats, sweaters, gloves, hats and scarves. It is not too late to donate, so please do your part, no matter how small, to help the Jersey Shore and the New  York areas hit by the storm make a full recovery, especially at this time of year. To those agencies helping, we can post your information in this column and on our website and facebook page so the food industry folks can help in the rebuilding operations.

Even before Sandy arrived, Philabundance, the DelawareV alley’s largest hunger relief organization, was facing a critical dry food shortage. Since the storm, it has gotten worse. The dry food shortage has resulted in cutbacks in food distribution to a network of community agencies and the Community Food Center at 6th and Lehigh in Philadelphia. In mid-October, St. Michael’s Food Cupboard in Kensington was not able to open for the first time in 20 years due to the dry food shortage. A number of issues including rising food prices, high gas prices and declining donated dry food in volume and variety have compounded making it increasingly difficult for Philabundance to secure and provide enough food to feed the people who need it most. The demand for food is rising, and over the last 12 months Philabundance distributed between 100,000 to 200,000 more pounds of dry food each month when inventory allowed in an effort to keep up with the growing need. Dry donations are not keeping up with demand and are 300,000 pounds lower than this time last year. Philabundance’s busiest season is approaching when demand is at its highest. Philabundance is calling out for help from the community, corporations and organizations in the Delaware Valleyto help them get through the upcoming holidays, so the dry goods cut backs will abate.  For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.philabundance.org or call 215-339-0900.

Stepping up to the plate this year was Procacci Brothers, which donated more than a half million pounds of produce from October 2011 to September 2012 to Philabundance. The donation is the largest amount of produce Procacci has ever donated in a year. In addition to full trailer donations that went through Philabundance’s distribution network, Procacci Brothers helped with weekly fresh donations in order to support Philabundance’s Community Kitchen (PCK), a culinary arts vocational and job placement program. President of Procacci Brothers, Mike Maxwell, stated “We are proud to see our relationship with Philabundance continue to grow, especially during tough economic times when our communities count on it the most. And, adding fresh fruits and vegetables to more plates is always a win-win.” “Procacci Brothers are truly dedicated partners to Philabundance and the fight against hunger in the Delaware Valley,” said Bill Clark, president and executive director of Philabundance. “They help us in a number of ways including the donation of more than a half million pounds of produce to Philabundance in the past year, a remarkable amount of produce which helped provide nutritious food to countless families and individuals in need.”

Saint Joseph’s University closed out a year of celebrating the 50th birthday of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s with the induction of five alums into the newly created Hall of Honor on November 1 at the Teletorium in the Haub School of Business. See the photo on page 1 for the inductees. The keynote presentation, made by Scott Aughenbaugh, Fellow and Multimedia Manager of the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, DC, was a look into the future of mankind. Go to www.csis.org and read about this look into Earth’s future. It is truly eye-opening.

The New York Produce Show will be held on December 4 and 5 in Manhattan. It promises to be better than ever with a move from Mid-Town to Pier 94 and an extraordinary panel of retailers who will keynote the general session of the conference. This show is a must attend with the hustle-bustle New Yor kstyle and lots to see and taste. For more information go to: www.nyproduceshow.com.

I would like to give a warm Philadelphia-style welcome to my new colleague, Kevin Gallagher, who joins us from Modern Grocer. Naturally, Kevin and I have crossed paths at many events over the years. Now we’re going to have the opportunity to work those events together, gather more news, and give you a bigger, better Food Trade News. I may even have the chance to teach him some Italian. Benvenuti!

As we continue the circle of life, we send condolences out to the family of Tom Smith, an industry veteran who passed away on November 14. Tom worked for many years at Penn Maid Foods. He was also a board member of the former Tri-State Dairy Deli Association. For those of you who remember Tom he was always nattily attired, never had a hair out of place and always had a twinkle in his eyes. Predeceased by a daughter, he leaves behind his wife, Jeanne, three children and seven grandchildren.

Get well wishes go out to: Bob Higgins of Saint Joseph’s University’s Academy of Food Marketing who has been temporarily sidelined with knee surgery, and Anthony L. Maglio of Maglio Sausage Company who is on the mend after joining the zipper club. Both are expected back at their respective desks soon.

Birthday shout-outs for the grateful month of November go out to: Don Ciotti, Bottom Dollar Foods; Jim Mullen, Giant/Carlisle; Bernie Ellis, retired; Curt Gruber, Acosta; Anthony Maglio Jr., Maglio Sausage Co.; Mike Mackin, Schmidt Baking; Paul Bell, Bell Sales; Mike Marano, AMG Retail; Pat McCarthy, retired Ocean Spray; Donna Tarzwell, wife of Mark Tarzwell, Ahold USA; Bill Speakman, CFO of Best-Met Publishing and me…aging like fine wine! Buon Compleanno a tutti!

Celebrating marital bliss this month are Charlie and Pat Mallowe, retired Saint Joseph’s University; Linda and Chuck Naddeo, HP Hood; and Jay and Kelly Orfatel, Bimbo Bakeries, USA. Congratulations!

As we gather with friends and family for this most American of holidays, please take a minute to remember and say a prayer for our troops at home and abroad who continue to sacrifice every day for our way of life. Even in these tumultuous times, we have much for which we should be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!