The New England Produce Council held its Sunny Valley International-sponsored dinner meeting May 8 at Embassy Suites Boston/Waltham. This was the ninth consecutive year that Sunny Valley has sponsored the meeting, and this year's theme was Monte Carlo. “It was an outstanding success," said Laura Sullivan, NEPC executive director.
Bonnie Lundblad, sales representative for Sunny Valley, which is headquartered in Glassboro, NJ, told The Produce News that Francisco Allende, vice president of the company, comes upwith the theme ideas every year. Ms. Lundblad has worked for the company for about 20 years, and she always looks forward to working on the meeting committee with Mr. Allende.
"We printed up some 'funny money' that read 'In Sunny Valley We Trust,' and everyone got $2,000 when they walked in the door to exchange for gambling chips," said Ms. Lundblad. "Prizes included two 'iPad mini' tablets and restaurant gift certificates for the restaurant of the winners' choice."
She added that Mr. Allende always comes up with a fun and unique theme for the meeting. From 2006 to 2009, Sunny Valley sponsored the meeting at Fenway Park in Boston.
"Those dinner meetings were also a lot of fun," said Ms. Lundblad. "Instead of a plated sit-down dinner, we served 'Fenway' franks, pulled pork sandwiches, popcorn and other typical ballpark fare. The meeting area overlooked the ballpark, and we were treated to a tour of the facility every year that we were there."
Other dinner meetings sponsored by Sunny Valley, which are the last dinner meeting on its academic year calendar, have included comedians and other entertainers.
Ms. Sullivan emphasized the generosity that Sunny Valley and its growers demonstrated through its donation of $6,400 to the "One Boston Fund," which benefits victims of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
The donation was collectively donated by Sunny Valley, Big Buck Farms, Eastern Propak, Gala Farms, Glossy Fruit Farms, Jersey Fruit, JSM Blueberries, Larchmont Farms, LoSasso Farms, Stoney Creek Blueberries, William Cappuccio & Sons Farm, Whalen Farms, Clark Farms and Mill Rock Farms.
"The presentation of the donation was very touching and thoughtful," said Ms. Sullivan. "Sunny Valley has been a faithful supporter of the NEPC for many years, and we are very thankful to them for their dedication and their vision of what makes an outstanding annual event.
"At the end of our year we draw for our annual 'Boston to Bermuda' cruise," she continued. "We collect name badges from members at all of our meetings throughout the year, and at the end of the year dinner meeting we draw from that pile. This year Bob Cantinella with U.S.A. Pears won the drawing. I'm sure it made a very nice Mother's Day gift to his wife."
Ms. Sullivan noted that the NEPC's annual golf tournament is scheduled for July 30 at the Red Tail Golf Club in Devens, MA.
"The tournament helps to support our scholarship fund," she noted.