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Now Is The Moment To Step Up: Industry Races To Place 350 Salad Bars In California Schools

The industry is leading up to a grand crescendo  at the United Fresh Produce Association Convention this May in San Diego.

After giving out salad bars to 43 local schools at the New Orleans convention in 2011 and after Dan’l Mackey Almy, President at DMA Solutions, and Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, Vice President, Nutrition and Health at United Fresh, spearheaded an effort that resulted in the donation of 100 salad bars to Texas schools at the Dallas convention in 2012, industry leadership — specifically our own “Gang of Four,”consisting of Dick Spezzano, Karen Caplan, Lisa McNeece and Margaret D’Arrigo-Martin, seem poised to achieve what once seemed impossible: The donation of 350 salad bars to California schools!

It is not a done deal yet, and Pundit readers have the opportunity to push the effort over the edge by contacting any of the four Chairman or going to the web sites of the Fresh Produce and Floral Council here or United Fresh here.

We are in. The Pundit donated a salad bar to the California effort, which followed up on donations made by both the Eastern Produce Council and Pundit sister publication, PRODUCE BUSINESS, on the occasion of the launch of The New York Produce Show and Conference.

Why are we in? Well, in the interviews below, Karen Caplan, CEO, President at Frieda’s Inc., makes the point that the fundraising is built on the ‘Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee’ concept and, indeed, it seems as if the industry is almost unanimous in supporting the program.

There is a little concern about food safety and salad bars, especially in elementary schools, and we dealt with that subject in a piece titled Every School Needs A Salad Bar AND A Commitment To Operating It Safely, but there are no known incidents and, most likely, the issue is more hygiene than e. coli 0157:H7.

Of course, we want to boost sales and consumption right now, and we want to build a sustainable program to improve public health in years to come.

This movement in California is likely to be a trendsetter, so we decided to devote a whole issue to the Campaign and the broader questions around salad bars. We asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to find out more by speaking to six leaders of the effort:

Dr. Lorelei DiSogra, Ed.D, R.D., Vice President, Nutrition and Health, United Fresh Produce Association

Dr. Diane Harris, Ph.D., M.P.H., C.H.E.S., Health Scientist, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dick Spezzano, President, Spezzano Consulting Service

Karen Caplan, CEO, President, Frieda’s, Inc.

Lisa McNeece, Vice President of Foodservice and Industrial Sales, Grimmway Farms

Margaret D’Arrigo-Martin, Vice President of Community Development, Taylor Farms

Increasing consumption is the goal of the trade and the public health community, and there is a consensus that focusing on children is the most effective way to proceed. So this effort is very important.

Many thanks to our six leaders for being willing to share their thoughts on the subject with the industry.

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