FORT LEE, Va., 2016-Aug-23 — /EPR Retail News/ — A Defense Commissary Agency store department manager is one of the nation’s best at promoting fruits and vegetables, according to the United Fresh Produce Association.
Ryan Blancas, former produce manager at the Beale Air Force Base Commissary, California, is one of 25 produce managers nationwide selected by United Fresh for its 2016 Retail Produce Manager Award. Since 2005, the association has awarded nearly 300 produce managers from more than 80 grocery retailers.
“It’s truly an honor getting this award,” said Blancas, who is now assistant grocery manager at the Naval Base San Diego Commissary after being at the Beale store since September 2014.
“I still can’t believe that out of hundreds of nominees around the world I’m one of the 25 chosen,” he added. “Although my name is the one being recognized, I owe all my success to the hard-working team at Beale and the produce merchandisers. They’re the ones that helped make this possible.”
The award recognizes the hard work and accomplishments of produce managers who reach out to their community to promote fresh produce and help their customers eat healthier.
Blancas was selected from hundreds of nominations submitted by produce suppliers and retailers from across the industry. The nominations were evaluated on a number of criteria including the nominees’ efforts to increase produce consumption through excellence in merchandising, sampling events and attractive store displays.
“Ryan won the award because he was the most deserving,” said Marlon Walker, Beale assistant store director. “His outstanding performance and local participation in the [installation’s] Quality of Life program contributed to the success as well.”
Blancas echoed the partnership the Beale store had with base leadership and its health officials, one that fit the commissary into the military’s campaign for healthier service members.
“We can educate our customers about the health benefits and nutritional value of fruits and vegetables,” Blancas said. “For example, kiwi can help you fall asleep and has more vitamin C than oranges, and eating broccoli and cabbage has been shown to help prevent cancer.”
As a former “military brat,” Blancas said he took a personal stake in helping convince young airmen at Beale to add more produce to their diets, a definite challenge when you consider they usually shopped for fast food and sweets.
His strategy was simple: Offer demos and samples of cut fruit in checkout queuing lines and the commissary’s grab and go area.
“What I love most about my job is being able to serve those who serve our country,” Blancas said. “Growing up with a Navy dad, I know the sacrifices the troops make to serve our country. Knowing I am making a positive impact on the health of our troops by providing fresh quality produce keeps me going.”
The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit and make no profit on the sale of merchandise. Authorized patrons purchase items at cost plus a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. By shopping regularly in the commissary, patrons save thousands of dollars annually. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.
Kevin L. Robinson
(804) 734-8000, Ext. 4-8773