UPDATED: Subway buyer earns The Packer's Foodservice Achievement Award(UPDATED COVERAGE, Aug. 1) MONTEREY, Calif. — Tina Fitzgerald, director of produce and corporate responsibility for Independent Purchasing Cooperative — procurer for the Subway restaurant chain — has won The Packer’s 2011 Foodservice Achievement Award.

Editor Greg Johnson presented the award July 31 to Fitzgerald at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference.

Johnson credited Fitzgerald for making fresh produce a bigger part of Subway’s menu when the chain made avocado spread an option at its restaurants in June, backed by a nationwide promotion.

“Our honoree knew this would be a success because (Subway) had promoted avocados on its sandwiches in California for several seasons,” Johnson said.

Independent Purchasing Cooperative procures all Subway food, packaging, distribution, equipment and services. Fitzgerald was part of the group that formed the cooperative 15 years ago. She started her Subway career as a development agent in the Pacific Northwest, and later worked in contracting for the chain’s food items and distribution.

As she accepted the award, Fitzgerald thanked Mike Spinazzola, president of San Diego-based DRS Inc., which procures produce for Subway.

“I couldn’t do my job without Mike and the folks at DRS who have really helped grow Subway and our produce program and allowed me to do other things like work on corporate social responsibility,” she said.

Fitzgerald’s other experience includes service on the Produce Marketing Association board, planning for the Monterey conference, and participation in the industry’s Foodservice 2020 initiative to double produce use in restaurants in 10 years.

“Much like last year’s honoree, Rich Dachman of Sysco, Fitzgerald has been described as someone who walks the walk,” Johnson said.

“It’s been an honor and really fun to work with PMA,” Fitzgerald said. “All my colleagues here at Foodservice 2020 have been wonderful. Bryan (Silbermann, PMA president,) has been wonderful.”