Bon Campo introduces 'Trattoria' line of specialties
January 09, 2006
Bon Campo announced the launch of Trattoria, a new line of specialties, featuring renowned chef Mathieu Frey who has created easy-to-follow recipes for normally hard-to-sell items like baby chokes, fennel, baby bok choy, baby eggplant and leeks.
In the Bon Campo tradition, the new Trattoria line will create sales by educating the American consumer with "real recipes for real people."
Bon Campo's philosophy has always been to create a line that is narrow and deep with generally fewer products than its competitors.
"We have hired a celebrated European chef who has created simple yet delicious recipes for the types of produce that are not typical to most Americans," said Merex founder Dave Blumberg. "Chef Mathieu Frey's approach is to get more Americans over their 'fear factor' about vegetables they don't normally use by creating recipes so simple and tasty they become a regular feature at the dinner table."
Chef Frey is a native of France and has cooked for Presidents Clinton and Bush as director of special events for New York's famed Daniel Boulud. He also is former sous chef of New York's Essex House Hotel.
"I chose these items to start because while I see them everywhere, they are not always the first choice for Americans. I believe my recipes will help move these items off the shelves," said Chef Frey.
Merex Corp. is backing its new line with a promotional campaign that will involve TV and store appearances for Chef Frey and tasting opportunities at the retail level. Chef Frey recently appeared on cooking shows in the New York area to promote the Trattoria line in the Stew Leonard stores in those areas. His passion for food is easily identifiable in his recipes that are simple yet delicious.
California pilot programs hail benefits of expanding WIC
January 09, 2006
by Joan Murphy
WASHINGTON -- As the federal government considers taking the program nationwide, congressional staffers packed into a U.S. Capitol room Dec. 6 to hear the experiences of the only two pilot programs that have allowed low-income women and children to use vouchers to purchase fresh produce in neighborhood stores.
After 30 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected this month to propose that participants of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children will be able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at local stores with government-issued vouchers. This comes on the heels of an April 2005 report that urged USDA to include fresh fruits and vegetables in a voucher system for WIC recipients, which include pregnant and postpartum women and children up to five years old. With Congress likely to play a role in overseeing the program, United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association and the National WIC Association organized the briefing to share the success stories of the two California pilot programs -- one in urban South Central Los Angeles and the other in rural Calaveras County.
"The vouchers made it possible for WIC participants to buy a wide variety of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables," said Dr. Dena Herman of the UCLA School of Public Health, who presented the results of the South Central Los Angeles study. It was important that at-risk moms could choose the fruits and vegetables they wanted to buy with the vouchers, she said. Even after the experiment ended, women kept asking for the vouchers, she said.
Two hundred WIC participants were given a $10 voucher per week to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables for six months. Under the pilot, Food4Less supermarkets developed the vouchers, trained cashiers and tracked redemption rates. Both pilot programs revealved that the redemption rate for vouchers was more than 80 percent, an unusually high rate for WIC vouchers.
"Although the maximum value of the project to Food4Less was $44,000 over one year, we felt it was important to get these WIC participants into our produce departments," the store's Tim Mulhall wrote in a Dec. 2 letter. Mr. Mulhall said that the vouchers posed no problems for employees and allowed WIC moms to try new fruits and vegetables.
In rural Calaveras County, another retailer touted the benefits of participating in the other pilot program, now in its fifth year. Save Mart Supermarket's Sharon Blakely said that the stores experienced no drawbacks in handling the vouchers. The program demanded no extra training for clerks who were already proficient in managing vouchers, she said.
Some programs allow women to obtain additional coupons that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers' markets. But Ms. Blakely said that vouchers redeemable at supermarkets offer added convenience for these moms along with year-around availability.
The California Grocers Association hailed the program as a great benefit to WIC recipients and said that it could be easily funded by slightly reducing the amount of juice and/ or milk in the current WIC package.
"From an administrative standpoint, this fresh produce plan would easily be implemented by WIC branches and WIC vendors throughout the nation," CGA President Peter Larkin wrote in a Nov. 29 letter in support of the program.
As a result of the pilot program, which is run on $50,000 a year from cigarette taxes, independent stores that sold few fresh items have now doubled their produce inventory, said Shirlee Runnings of the Human Resources Council WIC program. With the $5 vouchers, nearly 700 WIC moms and children are increasing their fruit and vegetable intake and participants are extremely happy with the program, she said.
"I feel WIC needs to walk the walk," she said. "We're encouraging people to eat more fruits and vegetables, and now it's time to give them the tools to do it."
Women who qualify for WIC are provided with nutritional education, including 5 A Day material and tips on recipes and price shopping.
As a result of the six-month pilot, Dr. Herman said that women increased their produce intake, changed eating habits and maintained the increase six months after the experiment ended.
New York began a three-month experiment in January, the only other pilot to offer WIC moms fresh fruits and vegetables, said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, who is director of the National WIC Association.
For now, all eyes will be on the USDA proposal due out in late January and followed by a 90-day public comment period. The issue is a top agenda item for United as United President Tom Stenzel said he's been meeting with USDA staff in recent days on the proposal.