Growing Up Fresh

The United Fresh Start Foundation is focused on one core mission — to increase children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Donate Now

Sign-up for our newsletter

United Fresh Start Foundation Annual Conference

The 2018 United Fresh Start Foundation Annual Conference & Gala Dinner
January 16-18, 2018 | Rancho Bernardo Inn, San Diego, CA

The United Fresh Start Foundation Annual Conference, January 16-18 at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, featured a new half-day program focused on growing access to fresh fruits and vegetables; all of United Fresh’s traditional volunteer leadership board, council and committee meetings; the Foundation’s annual fundraising golf tournament, a new silent/live auction, and our annual Gala Dinner recognizing the recipient of United Fresh’s 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Proceeds from the event support the United Fresh Start Foundation and our mission to increase children’s access to fresh produce.

See Who Attended

Photos From The Event

Schedule of Events

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

10:30 am – 5:00 pm United Fresh Start Foundation Golf Tournament
2:00 pm – 7:00 pm Registration & Silent Auction
6:30 pm – 9:00 pm United Fresh Start Foundation Gala Reception, Dinner & Auction

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

7:00 am – 2:30 pm Registration Open
8:00 am – Noon Breakfast & General Session Education
8:00 am – Noon Food Safety & Technology Council Open Forum & Breakfast
12:30 pm – 1:00 pm Volunteer Leaders Lunch
12:30 pm – 5:00 pm Volunteer Leaders Board, Council & Committee Meetings
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm  Volunteer Leaders Reception & Dinner

Thursday, January 18, 2018

All Day Board of Directors Meeting

Breakfast & General Session EducationWednesday, January 17, 2018

The second day of the event began with a morning of education focused on the United Fresh Start Foundation’s core mission areas.

Session 1

Connecting With Community Partners to Increase Children’s Access to Fresh Produce

The United Fresh Start Foundation’s Community Grants Program connects our industry to community partners working to increase children’s access to fresh produce.  DC Central Kitchen, one of more than 20 recipients of our 2017 community grants, is an innovative organization bringing together multiple community partners across Washington, DC to increase children’s access to fresh produce in schools, retail stores and the surrounding community.  Attendees learned how the Healthy Corners and Healthy School Food programs are combining to provide children and families in DC’s most under-served neighborhoods with increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and how to engage in local communities.

Alexander Justice Moore, Chief Development Officer, DC Central Kitchen, Washington, DC

Session 2

Connecting Schools to Supermarkets: Turning Access in Schools Into Retail Sales

For more than a decade, United Fresh has been the lead advocate for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), which provides 4 million elementary students in all 50 States with an in-class fresh fruit or vegetable snack multiple times each week. A leading nutrition professor discussed opportunities and benefits of collaborating with FFVP schools to drive increased produce sales at retail. Also, several leading retailers highlighted how their stores are engaging their communities and creating excitement for fresh produce with their youngest shoppers.

Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, PhD, RD, Professor, Nutrition, Senior Sustainability Scientist, Global Institute of Sustainability, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, College of Health Solutions, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ

Mike Orf, Group Vice President, Produce Procurement, Hy-Vee, West Des Moines, IA

Jeff Cady, Director of Produce & Floral, Tops Friendly Markets, Buffalo, NY

Session 3

Connecting With Foodservice To Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice for Kids

Innovative foodservice leaders shared how they are increasing children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables, both through innovative children’s menus at restaurants and in K-12 school foodservice. First, a leading restaurant operator, and a past winner of the United Fresh/Pro*Act Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program, shared how his restaurants are successfully incorporating a variety of fresh fruit and vegetable choices on their kids’ menu, leading to increased produce consumption and a healthy bottom-line.  Then, the foodservice director from California’s second largest school district, San Diego Unified School District, highlighted his commitment to fresh-focused menu choices through salad bars, school gardens, farm to school activities, and more.  The San Diego Unified School District has received 58 salad bars through the Foundation’s Salad Bars to Schools program, the most of any school district in the country.

Chef Ype Von Hengst, Co-Founder and Executive Chef, Silver Diner, Rockville, MD

Gary Petill, Director, Food and Nutrition Services, San Diego Unified School District, San Diego, CA

Lifetime Achievement AwardFoundation Gala Dinner

United Fresh Produce Association presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Hugh Topper, Group Vice President of Fresh Foods for H-E-B, at the Foundation Gala Dinner January 16.

Topper joined a distinguished group of past recipients, including Bruce McEvoy, Rick and Tonya Antle, Mike Cavallero, Joe Procacci, Reggie Griffin, Frieda Caplan and Bob Grimm (posthumously).

A native of Midland, Texas and raised on a family cattle ranch in Oklahoma, Hugh received a BS in Agricultural Economics from Oklahoma State University in 1982. He joined Fleming Foods Company and worked for 10 years in Kansas, California, Missouri and Texas, holding positions as Quality Assurance Manager, Produce Merchandiser, Produce Operations Manager and Manager of Frozen Food/Dairy Operations.

Coming back to his roots in Texas, he joined the H-E-B Grocery Company, where he has worked for 26 years building a solid foundation for the company in fresh produce and fresh foods. Hugh has served H-E-B as Produce Category Manager, Director of Produce Procurement, Vice President of Produce Procurement, Vice President of Produce, Chief Merchant for Central Market Division and Group Vice President of Fresh Foods.

Throughout his career, Hugh has been active in the industry serving on the United Fresh Board of Directors, United Fresh Start Foundation Board of Trustees, Produce Marketing Association’s PEIB Board Chairman, Texas International Produce Association Board of Directors and Produce for Better Health Foundation Board.

Hugh also has worked with Texas A&M University as a Guest Lecturer for the College of Agriculture, and as an Advisory Board Member for the Texas A&M Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center and Texas Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee.

Hugh has always given back to the community. He has been the United Way Chairperson for H-E-B, which was recognized as the #1 Company Employee Contributor in Texas. Hugh also served on the San Antonio Food Bank Board of Directors and San Antonio Food Bank Committee Chair. While leading the Food Committee, he created the annual holiday gift of produce, “Harvest from the Heart,” which has generated over 14 million pounds of fresh produce for those in need to support holiday meals in the past five years.

Hugh’s leadership with the United Fresh Start Foundation was a natural outgrowth of his and H-E-B’s commitment to children’s health. In Seguin, Texas, Hugh started a salad bar program for all elementary schools. The newest program he created is “Let’s Get Growing,” a program for low-income elementary schools in South Texas. The Program teaches 2nd graders how to grow produce through individual take home “farms”. It also partners with H-E-B dietitians, school administrators, teachers, students and parents to put together healthy meals through education and fresh produce consumption. To help drive participation, the school that has the highest support from parents gets a new playground!

Bids for Kids AuctionFoundation Gala Dinner & Reception

Attendees enjoyed dinner, drinks, and mingling with others who are committed to ensuring children everywhere can access fresh fruits and vegetables during the Bids for Kids silent and live auction on Tuesday, January 16. The auction raised over $100,000 for the United Fresh Start Foundation.

Thank you to everyone who donated an item to the auction and to all who placed bids.

If you are interested in learning more about the 2019 auction, please contact Kate Olender.

Golf Tournament

The 2018 United Fresh Start Foundation Golf Tournament took place Tuesday, January 16, 2018. The recently renovated 18-Hole San Diego Championship Golf Course at Rancho Bernardo Inn has hosted both PGA and LPGA events and continues to present golfers of all skill levels with a challenging and rewarding day on the course.

This year’s event featured a $10,000 Putt Fore Cash competition, as well as contest holes including Longest Drive, Closest-to-the-Pin and a $20,000 Hole in One competition. All par-3 holes also included prize opportunities for Hole in One winners, and the 12th hold included a spud gun fundraiser!

For information on the golf tournament, contact Andrew Marshall at 202-303-3407.

All proceeds from the Gala Dinner support the United Fresh Start Foundation’s programs to increase children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables – ensuring generations of children are growing up fresh.