FRBuyer: FISH (Food Industry Serving Heroes) is Born
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.
Some wounded veterans will soon be getting wheelchairs and service dogs, thanks to a $25,000 donation by the Southeast Association of Frozen & Refrigerated Food Councils last month during its annual conference in Hilton Head, SC.
The Councils made the donation to FISH (Food Industry Serving Heroes), a new 501(c)3 non-profit foundation whose mission is to provide active duty military and veterans with not only wheelchairs and service dogs, but financial literacy and jobs within the food industry.
"I was totally blown away by the generosity of the Southeastern leadership," Gary Spinazze, VP of vendor relations, Nash Finch Company, the wholesale food distributor, and vice chairman of FISH. "Their concern for the heroes that protect us every day is above and beyond the call. I only hope their example is copied as we launch the FISH Foundation and continue work on the causes that mirror the council’s values."
Other officers on the FISH board are: Paul Chapa (chairman), managing partner of Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer; Johnny Harris (treasurer), retired Harris Teeter executive and contributing editor of Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer; and Bob Savage (secretary), VP of sales at DeWafelbakkers.
Members of the board — which includes industry executives and the military — serve as volunteers so that funds raised can go directly to the support of active duty troops and veterans. They are supported by advisors with special expertise in the four pillars of FISH:
- Support, including emergency financial help or employment assistance through industry companies.
- Guidance, including personal financial literacy courses and spouse workshops.
- Recognition, including Heroes’ Dinners. (Cargill has generously provided meat for these events.)
- Health and welfare, including "Wags and Wheels," providing wheelchairs and service dogs to those in need.
The idea for FISH was born at 2:30 a.m. on Jan. 31 of this year, shortly after a Heroes Dinner was held at the Marine Corps Air Station in Cherry Point, NC. The four mentioned board members had been coming together regularly to serve meals on military bases to Marines who had been commended for heroism or community service. The experience was always intensely moving, both for the Marines and the people who served the meals. Ideas for FISH quickly fell into place, and the organization received its non-profit status on March 8.
"Away from their roles serving our country, service members are like everyone else," Mr. Chapa notes. "They often experience the same day-to-day trials that we all do. We have found, however, that there are times that they are very reluctant to ask for help. It is part of their ethos and training that drives them to focus on others first, not themselves."
What’s the key to success for such industry-supported, cause-related organizations? How does collaboration around causes differ from those around operational issues? Can organizations such as this take hold in other industries?