Ron Carkoski, President & CEO, Four Seasons Family of Companies, is known for his leadership in the fresh produce industry. Throughout his nearly 30-year produce career, he has also been a leader in supporting the United Fresh Start Foundation. For this, and many other reasons, United Fresh Produce Association looks forward to presenting Ron with its Lifetime Achievement Award during the Foundation Gala Dinner at FreshStart 2019, the United Fresh Start Foundation’s annual conference and fundraising event, taking place January 15-17 in La Quinta, CA.
Ron served as Chairman of the United Fresh Board of Directors, Chairman of the Wholesaler-Distributor Board, and as a member of the United Fresh Start Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Throughout his career and each of these roles, Ron practiced servant leadership and advocated for the entire produce supply chain – including advocating for kids everywhere to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
As Chairman of the United Fresh Board of Directors, Ron traveled to Washington, DC to meet with then USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. There, he expressed the produce industry’s support of Congress’ efforts to update school lunch nutrition standards to offer a greater amount and variety of produce choices in their meal programs each week. Following the meeting, Ron encouraged the industry to come together to assist schools with serving more produce choices.
“I urge everyone to use the strength of the suppliers to find solutions and help the schools succeed in meeting these standards,” said Ron. “Everything we can do to improve school nutrition today can help the next generation’s health and wellness, and that’s a win-win for us all.”
Ron’s company doesn’t service school foodservice accounts, but he understands that when children eat fresh produce in schools, they are more likely to eat fresh produce as adults, thus benefitting the produce industry.
Additionally, Ron has always supported the United Fresh Start Foundation’s Salad Bars to Schools initiative and offered his staff to talk with school foodservice directors who have produce-related questions. Over the years, Ron has also invited United Fresh staff to visit the Four Seasons Produce HQ to present to his team the latest federal policies and programs to improve access to fresh produce for children and families. Whether it was the school Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, school salad bars, or opportunities to help retail customers sell more produce to low-income customers participating in the federal WIC and SNAP programs, Ron always wanted his staff to be aware of the work United Fresh and the Foundation, are doing to make fresh fruits and vegetables easily available.
Now, with FreshStart 2019 coming up in just a few short weeks, Ron and Pat Carkoski are continuing their support for the United Fresh Start Foundation. They recently made a $1,000 personal donation to the Foundation, and United Fresh is encouraging all industry friends and colleagues to match their support. Both company and personal contributions are welcome, with donations supporting the Foundation’s mission to increase children’s access to fresh produce. As a contributor to this special campaign, donors will be recognized onsite at the FreshStart 2019 Gala Dinner where they can congratulate Ron in person.
By: Andrew Marshall, Director, Foodservice & Foundation Partnerships, United Fresh Produce Association