Tom Stenzel, United Fresh Produce Association Have you ever thought about why we honor individuals in our industry, or, really, in all walks of life?
I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently.
The United Fresh Produce Association is once again seeking nominations for our annual retail produce managers awards at the upcoming San Diego convention in May.
I suppose our first goal is to simply say thank you to these stalwart professionals on the frontline of our industry.
Too often they are the unsung heroes, laboring in anonymity, but making all the difference in delighting our customers with a fresh produce experience.
But even with the tremendous backing of our sponsor Ready Pac Foods, we can only recognize 25 people out of the literally thousands of produce managers across the industry.
So, we honor 25 and hope that conveys some degree of thanks to the rest.
But when we honor a select few, we’re also trying to convey a message to our community, including those in the convention audience and those who will read about it in The Packer.
These individuals have done something special — look at them, learn from them.
We’re lifting up models of excellence, pointing to performance and behaviors that we want to motivate and emulate.
We’re also now seeking nominees for our annual Foodservice Awards Program that Pro*Act supports to recognize outstanding chefs across the country.
Here, we’re specifically looking for role models who challenge the status quo and use their creativity to truly make fresh produce the star attraction and no less than half the dining plate.
We look for examples in different foodservice settings from fine dining to quick-serve to schools. And — guess what? — the honorees set the bar for their peers.
Finally, awards and honors can inspire others, even if you’re not directly in the same role or line of business as an honoree. These awards say thank you to an individual, and surely recognize their achievements.
But these awards do more — they tell a story that resonates across boundaries of time, profession and industry. They’re more about shared human values.
When Frieda Caplan receives the United Fresh Lifetime Achievement Award at our upcoming Winter Leadership Meetings in January, she will inspire.
I’ve known Frieda just about from the start of my 20 years as United’s president.
But many of you have known her for the entire 50 years since she founded Frieda’s Finest/Produce Specialties in 1962.