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DiSogra To Be Honored At 2017 Reception Honoring Women In Produce

United Fresh DiSogra
Lorelei DiSogra

Lorelei DiSogra, Ed.D., R.D., former VP of nutrition and health for the United Fresh Produce Association, will be the honoree and featured speaker at the Reception Honoring Women in Produce, Wednesday, June 14, at United Fresh 2017 in Chicago.

DiSogra retired from United Fresh at the end of May after more than 11 years with that organization and a career spanning 40 years.

Prior to her service at United Fresh, DiSogra was the director of the National 5 A Day Program at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) from 2001-05, VP of nutrition at Dole Food Co. from 1991-2001, and director of intervention for the California 5 A Day Campaign from 1985-91.

“The only word that describes Lorelei and her work and commitment to the fresh produce industry is—passionate,” said Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh in announcing her retirement. “She has been a lifelong advocate for fresh produce and healthy eating and she is a living example of someone truly ‘walks the walk.’ The impact and benefit of her work will be felt for many years to come and I can say that our industry is truly better because of her.”

The Reception Honoring Women in Produce is held each year in conjunction with the United Fresh convention and expo. The event recognizes the contributions of all women working in the produce industry, and selects one woman to share her personal experience of service. The featured speaker is selected from nominations submitted by United Fresh members across the industry. Nominations are evaluated by a committee of past honorees and United Fresh officers based on the candidate’s involvement in the industry, contributions to the industry, and inspiration for others working in the industry.

Stenzel noted, “She has worked tirelessly to increase children’s fresh fruit and vegetable consumption throughout her career. I’m thrilled that a distinguished group of past honorees wanted her to share her passion that has inspired so many of our industry members over the last four decades.”


Promoter of produce

After launching the “5 a Day” campaign for the state of California, the first public-private partnership between produce growers and public health officials, DiSogra started her produce career at Dole Food Co., where she developed the very popular “5 a Day Adventures” CD-ROM, one of the first CD-ROMs ever developed, which was used in more than 70 percent of all elementary schools nationwide. Developing five iterations of the CD-ROM during her tenure, she worked with several Dole International divisions to localize it for their countries.

To make fruits and vegetables come alive for children, DiSogra developed “Bobby Banana” and 40 other fruit and vegetable characters who encouraged kids to eat five fruits and vegetables a day. Bobby Banana and Pamela Pineapple became marketing icons for Dole.

To encourage supermarket retailers to engage local schools and play a leadership role in their communities, DiSogra developed “5 a Day Supermarket Tours” and trained produce managers nationwide on how to conduct the school tours. Working with a San Francisco-based composer, DiSogra created a “Jammin’ 5 a Day Songs” CD for schools; the music used on the CD-ROM became the impetus for the “5 a Day Live” play for schools, and was performed at the White House.

During her career at NCI, she collaborated with USDA to implement the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) pilot, which United Fresh had worked to pass in Congress, and developed the first Salad Bar Guide for Schools. Prior to the release of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, DiSogra did the formative research to develop the “fruits and vegetables ½ your plate” message.

DiSogra joined United Fresh in 2005, where she worked to further expand the FFVP to schools in all 50 states, and to revise WIC Food Packages to include fresh fruits and vegetables. Continuing her focus on increasing children’s fruits and vegetables consumption, she worked to update school meal nutrition standards that doubled the amount of fruits and vegetables to the benefit of more than 32 million students a day.

As one of the creators of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, DiSogra collaborated with the Obama White House, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the salad bar founding partners, United Fresh members and health foundations to make salad bars the norm in schools nationwide to ensure children have access to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day at school lunch. To date, more than 5,000 salad bars have been donated to schools across the country.

DiSogra holds a doctoral degree in nutrition education and a master’s in public health nutrition and nutrition education from Columbia University. She’s an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American Public Health Association.

She will join a distinguished group of “Women in Produce,” including:

Dan’l Mackey Almy, DMA Solutions Inc.

Tonya Antle, Organic Produce Network

Frieda Caplan, Frieda’s Inc.

Karen Caplan, Frieda’s Inc.

Margaret D’Arrigo, Taylor Farms Inc.

Jan DeLyser, California Avocado Commission

Jan Fleming, Strube Celery & Vegetable Co. (deceased)

Joline Godfrey, An Income of her Own

JoAnn Hines, Women in Packaging

Janice Honigberg, Sun Belle Inc.

Lorri Koster, Mann Packing Co.

Julie Krivanek, Krivanek Consulting Inc.

Kathleen Nave, California Table Grape Commission

Lisa McNeece Miceli, Grimmway Enterprises Inc.

Teri Miller, The Fresh Market

Dr. Martha Rhodes-Roberts, Roberts Associates

Steffanie Smith, Andrew Smith Company

Heather Shavey, Costco Wholesale

Mayda Sotomayor-Kirk, Seald Sweet International/Greenyard USA

Rosemary Talley, Talley Farms

Jenney Tenney, The Kroger Co.

Claire Thornton, The Fresh Approach


The Reception Honoring Women in Produce is one of the most popular networking events at the United Fresh annual convention, the association says. Tickets are required and are included in the All Access Package. For more information about the reception, contact United Fresh Senior Director of Member Programs & Education Amanda Griffin at [email protected] or call 202-303-3412.


A search process is currently under way by United Fresh to find DiSogra’s successor.

About the author


Lorrie Griffith

An observer of the grocery industry since 1988. Away from her editor job, she's a wife and mother of two grown sons and thinks cooking is (usually) relaxing.

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