For the fourth consecutive year, two produce managers from the Defense Commissary Agency have been honored in the annual United Fresh Produce awards.Michele Parks, produce manager for McClellan Commissary, Calif., and Robert Tanaka, produce manager for Los Angeles Commissary, were chosen from hundreds of nominations to make the list of the Top 35 Retail Produce Managers.
One has spent an entire career managing produce departments; the other just six years. Both share a passion for managing a part of the grocery store that has recently taken center stage as Americans have become more aware of the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables. Parks, who has been a produce manager since 2008, finds satisfaction in seeing the department ready for the day.
"Produce breathes, which makes ordering and stocking it different from working with other merchandise in the store," she said. "One of the best parts of my day is seeing the department fully stocked in the morning and ready for business and how our produce team keeps the displays looking beautiful all day."
Tanaka, who has 30 years of experience managing produce departments, clearly enjoys his job. "Along with keeping the displays fresh and appealing all day, we have fun hosting in-store events," he said. "Some events we hosted in 2013 were children's tours, seminars by the base dietitian and an annual salad-making contest. All highlighted the value of eating fruits and vegetables."
Sponsored by Ready Pac Foods, this year's produce award winners represent 32 different supermarket chains, commissaries and independent retail stores in 20 states. Nominees were evaluated on criteria including efforts to increase produce consumption through excellence in merchandising, special displays and promotions, community service and commitment to customer satisfaction.
"Michele and Robert deserve this national recognition for their dedication and amazing creativity in promoting the value, variety and health benefits of fresh produce," said DeCA Director and CEO Joseph H.
Jeu. "They represent the produce professionals in our commissaries worldwide who strive to deliver quality fresh fruits and vegetables to our patrons."