Tour de Fresh, presented by The California Giant Foundation, celebrates the sixth year of fresh produce companies uniting to ride more than 300 miles over four days to benefit the Salad Bars to Schools initiative.
Since the start of Tour de Fresh in 2014, the organization said it has provided more than 230 salad bars, which has provided approximately 120,000 kids access to fresh produce during school lunch. Of course, this would not be possible without the support from the industry’s riders and sponsors. Each year, Tour de Fresh participants have a goal to raise funds for 50 salad bars that will benefit a least 25,000 students across the nation.
To inspire other industry members to join the cause and commemorate the event, Tour de Fresh is recognizing three individuals who made an impact with the program, each with a compelling story behind why they contribute. They, like the many others behind Tour de Fresh, take ownership of the event for the cause.
Charles Nelson, senior director of research and development at Mission Produce, has been cycling for 10 years. However, it wasn’t until 2016 when he participated in Tour de Fresh that Nelson realized he was involved in something bigger than just another philanthropy event. In the two years that Charles has participated in the ride, he raised more than $18,000 to provide the school district of his choice with salad bars.
“I love the produce industry,” said Nelson. “I admire and respect the people that work so hard to bring the best products to the marketplace. I want to help support making these great products accessible to children across the nation through the Salad Bars to Schools program.”
Drew McDonald, vice president of quality and food safety at Taylor Farms, will ride in his fifth Tour de Fresh this year. Being a fresh produce professional and a father of three school-aged girls, McDonald has a special motivation during the ride. While he ensures that his daughters’ lunches are packed with fresh produce, McDonald also recognizes that is not the case for everyone else.
“Tour de Fresh directly puts the equipment in place to make fresh, healthy produce available to all,” said McDonald. “On top of this, riding along other produce professionals who all support this amazing cause is special, indeed. The camaraderie and bonding that occurs during the ride is awesome and its own reward. It is long and hard, but worth the effort.”
Brock Nemecek, North American marketing manager at T&G Global, is returning as a premier sponsor for the second time. Similar to McDonald, Nemecek acknowledges that not every child has the opportunity or access for healthier meal options. Sponsoring events like Tour de Fresh is the key to ending this issue among students in America.
"My nieces and nephews are fortunate in that they have access to the freshest produce, not to mention an uncle and other family members who regularly encourage them to try the wide variety of fruits and vegetables that are available to them," said Nemecek. "We sponsor the Tour de Fresh to deliver that same experience to students across the country who may not live in a household that is so passionate about produce."
There are still several sponsorship opportunities to support childhood nutrition through school provided salads bars. According to the organizers, a company that is a premier sponsor will have the opportunity to elevate their brand through logo placement on jerseys, consumer and industry focused mentions, and more. Companies can also sponsor the finish line celebration in Anaheim or the “feed zone” nutrition stations at each stop. Should you choose to join the cause and take advantage of this marketing opportunity leading up to Fresh Summit, you will join these current sponsors:
Arctic Apples, Americold, And Now U Know, Basil Seasonal Dining, California Giant Berry Farms, CHEP, Church Brothers, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Coosemans, Crunch Pak, DMA Solutions, Earthbound Farms, EBX Logistics, Emerson, Famous Software, Fight Like A Girl Foundation, FreshPlaza, Gold Coast, Good Foods, Gusto Handcrafted Pasta & Pizza, iTrade Network, JAZZ Apples, Lipman Produce, Misionero, Mission Produce, Ocean Mist Farms, Paramount Export, PRO*Act, Procurant, Produce Marketing Association, Regal Marketing, Renaissance Food Group, Robinson Fresh, Sakata, Specialty Produce, SunFed Produce, Taylor Farms, Total Quality Logistics (TQL), and Western Precooling.