Growing up in the Queens borough New York City, Andrew Marshall was little aware of the workings of the produce industry, such as the nearby sprawling Hunts Point Terminal Market in the Bronx.
He was oblivious to the distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables to retailers, foodservice operators and schools.
Now, Marshall, director of foodservice and foundation partnerships for the United Fresh Produce Association, plays a big role in engaging school foodservice operators in New York and other cities with fresh produce industry issues and people.
Marshall found his way to the industry in 2006, when he was hired by United Fresh as a government relations representative.
Today, Marshall now supports the foodservice community’s participation in the association’s programs and resources. These include national restaurant chains, institutional foodservice providers, leading K-12 school foodservice organizations, direct-to-consumer foodservice companies and the distributors who support the foodservice category.
In his dual role for the United Fresh Start Foundation, Marshall helps build partnerships with companies and organizations to meet the foundation’s mission to increase children’s access to fresh produce.
Marshall’s prior accomplishments with United Fresh include leading the foundation’s successful Salad Bars to Schools initiative, serving as the main staff liaison to facilitate partnerships with produce companies, as well as like-minded stakeholders from outside the produce industry, including Kaiser Permanente, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Silicon Valley Leadership Foundation.
Marshall said he spent about a year working on donations from produce companies to put salad bars into key parts of the country.
He also helped develop the Foundation’s School Foodservice Forum, a networking and education program that brings major city and county school foodservice leaders and menu planners to the annual United Fresh convention to learn about new products and packaging for foodservice.
Marshall’s passion and commitment to the industry stand out, said Lisa McNeece, vice president of foodservice and industrial sales at Grimmway Farms, Bakersfield, Calif.
“He’s given so much of his time and energy to growing awareness with schools in their directors for the need of fresh fruits and vegetables on their menu and in their salad bars,” she said.
“I am extremely fortunate to have been able to work beside him on this journey.”
Marshall is passionate about increasing the access and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for American youth, said Phil Muir, chair of the United Fresh Start Foundation and president of Muir Copper Canyon Farms, Salt Lake City.
“He has rolled up his sleeves and actually created an new niche in our industry of bringing the school foodservice professionals into our industry as partners rather than just customers,” Muir said.
“This is an area of the industry that did not exist five to 10 years ago.”
With the creation of the United Fresh School Foodservice Forum and Fresh Festival Exposition in conjunction with the United Fresh annual convention, Marshall has helped bring educators and school foodservice directors into the fresh produce industry. Muir said those professionals are now advocates for fresh.
“As a result of the collaboration between the fresh produce industry and school foodservice industry, best practices are being adopted in both industries that have shown to increase consumption and responsible practices,” Muir said.
“Andrew’s listening and interacting skills have made him especially effective in this area.”
Marshall has played a key role behind the scenes in keeping the Salad Bars to Schools program working and growing, Muir said.
“He has the ability to bring together not only industry people but other stake holders from health care, business, and other third parties for the purpose of donating Salad Bars to thousands of schools around the country,” he said.
“Where Andrew really makes a difference is the passion and business skills he uses to the task of reducing obesity, increasing access and consumption in America’s children through the programs of United Fresh.”
United Fresh’s involvement in the Salad Bars to Schools from its beginning laid the groundwork for explosion of the program when First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program embraced the program.
Marshall said he considers himself fortunate to be a part of the work to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among kids.
The Salad Bars to School campaign will be 10 years old in November 2020, and has flourished with industry support.
“I think the way that the industry responded (to the program) has just been really fantastic; it just shows that they’re thinking about their business but even beyond their business,” he said.