One of the many things I love about the cold food and beverage industry is the ability to do good deeds. Yes, there are several processors who participate in recycling programs, community fundraisers, food drives and more, but as many industry tradeshows and conferences I’ve attended in my 9-year career with BNP Media, I’ve never been able to participate in such an event while at the show.

That changed when I joined about 30 other attendees from Refrigerated Foods Association’s annual conference to pack school lunches for Gracie’s Kitchen. In one hour, we assembled 350 sandwiches, 330 fruit and cheese packages and 175 dessert servings for the homeless, seniors, veterans, children and the working poor in Amelia Island, Fla.

In addition to the service project, the Refrigerated Foods Association (RFA), Marietta, Ga., conducted a food drive at the conference, which took place Feb. 26-March 1 at the Ritz-Carlton Resort & Golf Club in Amelia Island, and collected a tremendous amount of cereal, macaroni, quinoa, spaghetti sauce and more. 

During the group’s closing banquet, RFA held a 50/50 raffle where half the pot went to the raffle winner and the other half to Feeding America, Chicago. However, the raffle winner donated his portion back to the Feeding America campaign, resulting in a $2,215 donation from the group. 

Several of today’s cold food processors take part in their own company-run philanthropic initiatives, and have even instituted formal best practices. Giving back isn’t just about good karma—it’s about doing the right thing. Kudos to RFA for creating several opportunities on the conference floor to donate food, money and time to such a good cause. And, thank you for allowing me to be a part of it.