Wegmans executive Joe Sofia, who began his term as chair of the New Jersey Food Council just before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the state, will continue in the role for another year, the Food Council announced.
In accepting the role for a second year, Sofia noted how the members of the organization stuck together and accomplished much, while addressing the unprecedented challenges the industry has faced in the past year.
“I would like to express a heartfelt thank you to all of the members who unselfishly came together to help strengthen and grow the New Jersey Food Council during this crisis,” Sofia said. “From protecting our lifeline workforce to pushing back against onerous new taxes and regulation, our members have never ceased to amaze me in their vision and perseverance.”
The work continues, Sofia said.
In the coming year, Sofia said NJFC will see the expanded roll-out of the “Choose to Reuse” campaign to educate shoppers statewide about the need to bring their own bags. Moreover, supermarkets with pharmacies will soon be administering COVID vaccine, underscoring, again, their ongoing contributions to the communities they serve.
“While I am grateful for your confidence and support over this past year, there is still much work to be done,” he said. “We continue to rely on industry engagement and inclusion, and your effort is needed now more than ever to stand together as business leaders, NJFC members and one voice for our food industry.”
Sofia, whose reappointment came during the group’s annual membership meeting, was lauded for his efforts and applauded as a thoughtful, genuine and determined leader, as well as a remarkable ambassador.
Here’s a look at the officers for 2021:
- Chair: Joe Sofia, Wegmans Food Markets;
- Vice chair: Andrew Kent, Glass Gardens ShopRite;
- Associate vice chair: Mike Biase, Mission Foods;
- Treasurer: Michael Rothwell, Pennington Quality Market;
- Secretary: Suzanne Delviccio, QuickChek;
- CEO: Linda Doherty, NJ Food Council.
Doherty paid tribute to the members.
“As we take a look back, 2020 was an extraordinary period of time,” she said. “It will be remembered as the `Year of the Virus’ and how it unexpectedly unhinged our lives, upended the food business, challenged the food supply chain and changed the way members do business. It was through strength, resolve and innovation that NJFC members rolled with every punch and exceeded the needs of New Jersey customers.”
From food retailers, convenience stores, manufacturers, brokers, wholesalers and suppliers, every facet of the food business was overwhelmed by the spread of an unpredictable illness, an uncertain public and waves of government mandates and restrictions, she said.
“This inconceivable crisis is thought by some as our darkest days, but, in hindsight, I consider it our finest hours,” Doherty said. “The common thread was the resiliency of the essential workforce and the tenacity of leadership in the New Jersey grocery business. Our supermarket heroes, frontline manufacturers, food truck delivery services, supplier community and convenience store workers showed up every single day under the threat of an invisible enemy.”
During the event, the NJFC paid tribute to Joe Pagano, who announced he was retiring from the NJFC board of directors after more than 40 years of service.
NJFC also unveiled its 2021 sponsors, a premier group of members who have made a financial and organizational commitment to advance the association’s mission in Trenton. Platinum sponsors include: Acme, Allegiance Retail Services Inc., Bimbo, PepsiCo, Stop & Shop, Wegmans and Whole Foods Market.