Big shakeup at Landover, MD-based UFCW Local 400, the largest local labor union in the country for clerks and meatcutters. Tom P. McNutt, who has served as president of Local 400 since May 2010 (following the retirement of Jim Lowthers), has resigned to accept a position with the UFCW International in Washington. Former secretary-treasurer of Local 400, Mark Federici, assumes the top post at Local 400. Federici issued the following statement: “I look forward to building on the strong foundation President McNutt leaves behind. As the Local union’s leadership changes hands, the entire staff and I will continue to work towards our primary goal of ensuring that the good wages and benefits of our members are protected and that our members receive the same high quality representation that the Local union has always provided.” McNutt’s father, Thomas R. McNutt, an iconic figure in the labor movement, served as president of Local 400 from 1976-1997…on December 9, Weis opened its new 65,800 square foot replacement unit in Fogelsville, PA (Lehigh County) and its first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) unit in its 162 store fleet… the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has named Danny Wegman, CEO of Wegmans Food Markets, and Tim Smucker, chairman of the J.M. Smucker Co., recipients of the 2012 GMA Hall of Achievement Award, the highest honor given by the national manufacturer trade group…a tip of the hat to Wakefern Food Corp. for another stellar year in continuing challenging market conditions. The Keasbey, NJ cooperative wholesaler posted $13.6 billion in retail sales (for the year ending September 29), an impressive 6.4 gain from 2011. Revenue from wholesale was $10.1 billion. That not only ranked Wakefern as the largest co-operative grocery wholesaler in the country (according to National Cooperative Bank), it moved it up one spot to number four among all co-ops nationally (CHS Inc, Dairy Farmers of America and Land O’ Lakes were the respective overall leaders). During the past 12 months, Wakefern opened 10 new ShopRite units and one new PriceRite discount store. Additionally, last month, a new PriceRite store debuted in Syracuse, NY, its first in that Central NY city and in also opened its second and third PriceRite units in Maryland (in Baltimore City on West Pratt Street and in District Heights). Both stores are off to very good starts… a post-storm update on Hurricane Sandy. Having witnessed some of the destruction caused by the most devastating weather event to his this region over the past 50 years, it is unbelievable to describe the toll it has taken on so many communities and people. However, as awful and heartbreaking as Sandy’s impact was, I’ve got to give props to many, many people who serve the food industry. The help that was provided and still continues from retailers, vendors and distributors was incredible and should never be forgotten. From cash donations in the tens of millions, to providing food, shelter and clothing to many unfortunate victims, the food industry shined its brightest light during the past few weeks. Those retailers and wholesalers that gave notable contributions, that I’m aware of include: Ahold USA’s whopping $2.5 million donation to the American Red Cross; CVS gave $100,000 to the Red Cross; C&S Wholesale contributed about 100,000 pounds of meals, water, snacks and cleaning products to Feeding America food banks in Connecticut and New York City; Target donated $500,000; Wakefern contributed up to $1 million in funds and in-kind donations; Walgreens’ charitable offering was $250,00; and Wal-Mart donated up to $1.5 million; Wawa gave $10,000 to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey and also to food banks in Monmouth and Ocean Counties; $100,000 was donated to the American Red Cross from Rite Aid; King Kullen and Bozzuto’s teamed up to donate $100,000 in supermarket gift cards to those in need; and Wegmans provided three truckloads of food worth approximately $200,000. Of course, there was much more donated from other retailers, wholesalers and countless manufacturers that I’m not even specifically aware of. In the end, it was all about reaching out to help others in need. As tragic as this episode was (and will continue to be), it makes me proud to be a member of one of the greatest industries in America…in the obit column, I’m very sad to report the death of one of the most influential jazz pianists of the past 50 years, Dave Brubeck. Brubeck, who died one day before his 92nd birthday earlier this month, recorded one of best selling jazz albums of all time “Time Out” (1959) which produced the crossover hit “Take Five.” However, the album’s first track “Blue Rondo a La Turk” is, in my opinion, the best song on the record – a tune that blends folk, jazz and a touch of Mozart…a big tip of the fedora to the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the Network of Executive Women, whose recent holiday mixer at Taberna Del Alabardero in DC was a big winner. The event was a throwback to days of yore, when networking and socializing (partying) were the order of the day. Plus, the audience got to hear Bob Bly and Micky Nye (Shoppers) and Shane Sampson and Anthony Hucker (Giant/Landover) talk about the importance of women in the grocery business. And an extra special shout out to Elda Devarie, president of EMD Sales, for choosing such a great restaurant and selecting the delicious Spanish wines. And finally, to all our readers and advertisers, may you have a happy, healthy, merry and wealthy holiday season!