LOUISA, Ky. — It's no wonder that for the third year in a row, produce managers from K-VA-T's Food City units in the company's Tri-City district here have been nominated for United Fresh Produce Association's Retail Manager Awards. The produce departments in the district constantly host promotions and represent the company at community-outreach events. The list goes on and on.
Two produce managers this year from Tri-City Food City stores have been chosen by United from a record 230 nominees the association received this year. They are Ron Potter, Kingsport, Tenn., and Shannon Adkins, Shelbiana, Ky. Last year, one Food City nominee was chosen by United: Doug Collins in Prestonsburg, Ky. And in 2009, it was Lequitte Perry, at the Louisa, Ky., store.
“That so many produce managers from K-VA-T stores in that area have received awards is a testament to the work they do,” said Patrick Delaney, communications manager for United Fresh.
“Those produce managers are our face [to the public], representing the industry in a great way.”
Produce managers at Food City stores don't miss a chance to get involved in community events or suppliers' events that put fresh fruits and vegetables in the spotlight. In fact, at the company's Louisa store, Perry has the next few weeks booked up with events that bring attention to fresh produce, healthy eating and, of course, the Food City store.
For the third year in a row, Perry organized an “Easter Apple Hunt” — in lieu of an egg hunt — on Palm Sunday in the field behind her store.
Perry and her associates spanned out over the field a 6:30 in the morning, hiding 1,000 Red Delicious apples.
“We can't do it the night before because we're out where there are deer, foxes, rabbits, possums, even a flock of wild turkeys. Any of them would soon make off with the apples if we didn't have someone watching,” Perry told SN.
Perry had the idea three years ago to hide apples. It promotes the produce department and makes apples a great substitute for candy and jelly beans, she said. “Parents love the idea, and so do the kids.”
This spring, Perry's calendar is full. She and her crew participated in a “Reality Shopping Day” at the local middle school earlier this year. Several different companies were invited by the school to show students how to budget their money, shop wisely and generally plan their future economic lives. Food City was the grocery store invited.
Then the day after Easter, the Food City store was asked to participate in a similar Reality Shopping Day at the local high school.
The 10th graders were asked to choose a profession they thought they might be interested in pursuing, and then were given a “salary” appropriate to the profession they chose.
Perry and representatives of other companies “showed them how to budget their money for a week as if they were really doing everything a family has to do. Pay taxes, buy insurance, food shop wisely, etc.,” Perry said.
“When it came to food shopping, we emphasized store brands and fruit and vegetables that are in season because they're less expensive. We told them strawberries would soon be at their lowest price, for example. And told them fruits and a lot of the veggies would go down in price this summer as they come into season.”
Next up is a Fitness & Wellness Day at a nearby Christian academy, in which Food City will participate.
At all the events, Perry takes baskets of fresh fruit and vegetables for the students.
“Mine [the fruits and veggies] are always gone before the cookies and candy that other participants have brought,” Perry said. She added that she always has an armload of “Fruits & Veggies — More Matters” pamphlets from the Produce for Better Health Foundation that she distributes.
The Food City Stores also link up with suppliers who are doing anything attention-getting. For instance, this week Perry is building a huge Vidalia onion display on wagons and with Vidalia POS materials that show well-known country music singers. A Vidalia-sponsored jingle contest will be promoted.
“This display will be twice the size of the one we made last year,” she said.