How N.J. Food Council trains next-generation leaders of supermarket industry

The food industry is one of the most important in the state.

That’s why members of the New Jersey Food Council Leadership Development Program recently met with state Sen. Vin Gopal (D- Ocean Twp.) to discuss political leadership, the legislative process and the need for the next generation to be active in the New Jersey public policy area.

It was the second of five sessions of the NJFC’s Leadership Development Program as a way to introduce members to business and public policy at both the state and national levels, NJFC officials said.

The program aims to provide both orientation and skill development for aspiring future leaders of various segments of the New Jersey food distribution industry. Through mentoring, organizational education, leadership training, policy trends and guided experience, participants see the preparation for such leadership roles. Additionally, members will have the opportunity to meet elected officials, regulatory agents, policymakers, NJFC Committee leaders and top New Jersey food industry members.

NJFC President Linda Doherty commended the program for the great value it provides for members.

“This program serves as a gateway for aspiring young business leaders, offering invaluable exposure to the intricacies of both state and federal government,” she said. “By fostering hands-on experience, it equips participants with the essential skills needed for advancement within their respective organizations, while also nurturing their ability to advocate for the future prosperity of the food industry.”

Several former members of the program have gone on to be elected to the NJFC board of directors. Doherty noted the opportunity the program provides to members.

“This program mirrors the dynamic essence of the food industry, emphasizing the multifaceted skill set required for effective leadership in the interconnected realms of government and food commerce,” she said. “Notably, it has already paved the way for several alumni to ascend to the NJFC board, empowering them with enhanced readiness to confront the formidable challenges presented by the rapidly evolving landscape of the food sector.”

This year’s class of eight includes:

  • James Bischoff, Bimbo Bakeries;
  • Orela DeCurtis, Bimbo Bakeries;
  • James Gleason, Stop & Shop Supermarkets;
  • Katie Murphy, C&S Wholesale Grocers;
  • Juan Salinas, Perfect Life Nutrition;
  • Zachry Veltri, Wawa;
  • Michelle Vitale, Coca-Cola;
  • Daniel Wolk, Stop & Shop Supermarkets.

The New Jersey Food Council is the Garden State’s food industry trade association, representing over 1,400 retail food stores, wholesalers, manufacturing and service companies that supply them.