The Rhode Island Food Dealers Association (RIFDA) inducted new members to its Hall of Fame and recognized the state’s best bagger during its 2019 Trade Day on March 21, at Kirkbrae Country Club in Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Sponsored by Bozzuto’s, Dave’s Marketplace, Stop & Shop and Shaw’s Supermarkets, the event began with the Rhode Island Best Bagger competition. Master of Ceremonies Dana Leonardo, Shaw’s Supermarket, entertained the audience as well as introduced the 17 contestants from Rhode Island supermarkets who competed for the title of the state’s top bagger.
Winner Samantha Falkowski, Dave’s Marketplace, will compete at the National Bagger Competition in February 2020, in San Diego, California, with the winner of that contest receiving a prize of $10,000.
All guests at the Rhode Island competition were eligible to win door prizes donated by the sponsors.
This year’s event featured “Meet the Rhode Island Food Entrepreneurs,” where six food entrepreneurs showcased items that were sampled by the guests. All of the entrepreneurs are members of Hope & Main, a Rhode Island company known as a food incubator. The mission of the company is to help local entrepreneurs jumpstart early-stage food companies and food-related businesses by providing low cost, low-risk access to shared-use commercial kitchens and other industry-specific technical resources.
After a dinner buffet, RIFDA Director Steve Arthurs introduced the guest speaker, Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. She spoke to guests about economic trends and businesses in the state. Gorbea asked everyone for civic engagement and encouraged all to contact her about issues that are a concern or need to be clarified, stating, “let me help you tackle it.”
Also at the event, Arthurs presented four RIFDA awards to special recipients.
The following received 2019 RIFDA Hall of Fame Recognition Awards:
- Outstanding Service Award: William Candon, retired district sales manager, Snyder’s-Lance. This RIFDA award applauds the contributions of people who have distinguished themselves through outstanding performance over a period of time and through the example they set for their peers in the trade.
- Spirit of Rhode Island Award: Mesa Fresca, Alan Alberto. This RIFDA award acknowledges an organization from Rhode Island whose efforts contributed positively to the identity of the overall state food industry.
- Member of the Year Award: Dino’s Park-n-Shop, Stephen Kopeski. This RIFDA award was established to recognize the contributions of an organization in the Rhode Island food industry that has distinguished itself by outstanding performance through efforts and contributions to its customers, associates and the community.
The next RIFDA event is the summer convention, to be held in June at the Red Jacket Inn, South Yarmouth, Massachusetts.