retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has revealed the three 2020 winners of its Impact Award, designed to "recognize individuals and organizations who have had a transformative effect on the produce and floral community, consumers, and the world," and to "honor excellence and inspirational actions of people and organizations helping to grow a healthier world."

This year's winners include:

•  Al Romero, senior merchandising manager at 99 Cents Only stores, "for his work bringing greater access to produce in his urban Los Angeles community."

•  Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Birmingham, Alabama, which "has created a community movement that helps children access and learn about farming through a meaningful a hands on experience that is shaping their relationship with food, providing a deep learning experience, and shaping their communities in a very important way."

•  Georgia Organics’ Food Fight GA , "created as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic to support both restaurant workers and the Georgia farm-to-foodservice supply chain … (it) seeks to serve Atlanta’s restaurant family by providing fresh produce to former staff while also maintaining the local food system. Thanks to funding from the Jamestown Charitable Foundation and Ponce City Market, Food Fight GA is able to order directly from the small farms that are often existing sellers to the restaurants to be bagged, sorted and shared with those now unemployed in the restaurant community."

The announcements come in advance of the October 13-15 PMA Fresh Summit, which is being held virtually this year.

I wanted to draw attention to the Impact Awards because I think it is notable how the winners essentially are coloring outside the lines of traditional business.

Most people would not expect 99 Cents Only stores to have a decent produce section, much less an exceptional one.  But it does.

A teaching farm that puts kids in touch with their food comes from?  What a great idea.

And a business that does not just look inward when dealing with a national health crisis, but also looks outside its own concerns at the needs of its community?  That's the very definition of community.

To me, these are Eye-Openers, and heartening news in troubled times.