United Fresh's FreshStart Conference Concludes; Andrew Marshall, Emanuel Lazopoulos, Lori Taylor, and More Share Event Details
TUCSON, AZ - Another year, and another success for the FreshStart Conference! More than 400 attendees convened in Tucson, Arizona, last week for the United Fresh Start Foundation’s annual event where retailers and other produce professionals throughout the supply chain have the opportunity to begin the year networking and learning to help put produce at the center of the plate for children and their families.
“The FreshStart Conference provides an opportunity to highlight the United Fresh Start Foundation’s work to achieve increased access to fresh produce for children and their families,” said Andrew Marshall, Director of Foodservice and Foundation Partnerships, United Fresh. “There are many stakeholders involved when it comes to making fresh produce more readily available at retail, restaurants, schools, and other settings. The FreshStart Conference has created an environment to spotlight what’s working, as well as identify opportunities to work together to overcome challenges and grow produce consumption.”
This year, attendees were greeted with an itinerary stacked with networking and education opportunities during the Growing Up Fresh Golf Tournament, the Bids for Kids Auction, Gala Dinner, and volunteer meetings. The event raised a collective $100,000 in support of the United Fresh Start Foundation’s mission, supporting notable foundation programs such as Salad Bars to Schools and the Community Innovation Grants Program, and allowing for additional impact in schools and communities throughout the coming year.
During the Gala Dinner, attendees celebrated this year’s United Fresh Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Emanuel Lazopoulos, former Senior Vice President of Del Monte Fresh Produce.
“I am truly humbled by this award,” commented Lazopoulos. “I am a blessed man in many ways, especially by my wife Laura and our three daughters and sons-in-law. The credit for this honor goes to them, as well as to my many colleagues. My career dates back more than 40 years, and I’ve had many mentors who deserve a great deal of credit for my success in this wonderful industry.”
While reflecting on the past, Lazopoulos was sure to stress the importance of looking to the future, saying, “The impact that many of you are having on the young members of the industry is remarkable. It’s a fabulous industry that is changing every day, and it is exciting to see the opportunities that are now available.”
United Fresh also presented Cindy Jewell, Vice President of Marketing, California Giant Berry Farms, with a special recognition for her leadership in establishing the Tour de Fresh as a yearly fundraiser. Over the past six years, almost $1 million has been raised to place salad bars in schools across the country. Ed Purves, of Paramount Export Company, and Robyn Purves, also were honored as the husband and wife tandem bicycle-riding team that has raised a total of $34,000 (and counting) since Tour de Fresh’s inception.
This year’s education centered around growing access to fresh produce at retail, restaurants, and in K-12 schools. Programs and workshops galore centered around improving retailers and growers interaction and commitment to increasing access to quality fruits and veg.
“The FreshStart Conference was a great opportunity to network across the industry and discuss new and creative ways to get more produce into the hands of children and their families,” stated Lori Taylor, Founder and CEO of The Produce Moms. “Everyone is looking to grow their business, and the conference’s education sessions spurred new ideas and conversations about making fresh produce choices more readily available, whether at the grocery store, in restaurants, or for kids at school.”
To help drive the point further, two keynote speakers presented at the General Session Luncheon. Executive Director of the Urban School Food Alliance, Katie Wilson, shared how the nation’s largest school districts are changing the image of school meals by working to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the nearly 4 million students served every day.
President of Kroger Health, Colleen Lindholz, presented on her work leading a team of more than 22,000 healthcare professionals who provide an extensive suite of health and wellness solutions to 13 million people each year. As the lead architect of Kroger Health’s 'Food as Medicine' strategy, Colleen explained how she connects customers’ grocery experience with their healthcare needs through innovations in recruiting, training, and technology. One of those innovations is Kroger’s OptUP app that gives shoppers the nutritional value of produce while shopping.
“The FreshStart Conference was packed with insightful information on connecting businesses to new opportunities to reach kids and their families with fresh, healthy produce. I couldn’t miss out on this opportunity to start the year with my peers across the industry, learning how we can make decisions for our businesses that will ensure future generations continue to grow up fresh,” stated Tony Freytag, Crunch Pak Executive Vice President and Co-Founder.
You can continue to support the United Fresh Start Foundation’s initiatives throughout the year by clicking here.
With a shopping cart full of healthy and nutritious information, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the year. Keep reading AndNowUKnow as we cover the latest in fresh produce.