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Specialty Food Association's 2018 Leadership Awards Honor Leaders with Business Acumen, Citizenship, and Vision

Specialty Food Association's 2018 Leadership Awards Honor Leaders with Business Acumen, Citizenship, and Vision

Monday, November 20th, 2017

This month, the Specialty Food Association (SFA) is honoring forward thinking food industry leaders who go above and beyond by creating positive social, economic, and/or environmental impact through their innovation and vision. The Association has announced the winners of its 2018 Leadership Awards—six recipients noted for their excellence across three categories: Business Leadership, Citizenship, and Vision.

Phil Kafarakis, President, Specialty Food Association"These six specialty food entrepreneurs reflect the great power and impact of our growing industry on society at large," said Phil Kafarakis, President of the Specialty Food Association, in a press release. "It's an honor to recognize their positive social, economic, and environmental achievements—all undertaken while also meeting the daily challenges of managing successful businesses."

Recipients of the sixth annual SFA Leadership Award include:

Business Leadership

  • Meg Barnhart, the zen of slow cooking, Lake Forest, IL: Every packet of the company's spice is packed by an adult with a developmental disability
  • Christopher J. Patton, River Hills Harvest Marketers, LLC, Minneapolis, MN: Developed native midwestern elderberries into a viable specialty crop


  • Ryan Emmons, Waiakea Hawaiian Volcanic Water, Culver, CA: For every liter of water bought, Waiakea donates 325 liters of clean water to people in need in Africa
  • Sam Mogannam, Bi-Rite Market, San Francisco: Brought together Bay Area chefs to feed victims of the California wildfires


  • Mohammed Ashour, Aspire Food Group. Austin, TX: Food tech group that address global sustainability and food security with advanced insect farming
  • Thierry Ollivier, Natierra By Brandstorm, Inc., Van Nuys, CA: Feed a Soul program gives a meal to a Haitian child for every purchase

Meg Barnhart, Founder and Co-Creator, the zen of slow cooking"We felt honored to be recognized by an association that has so many members who are passionate social entrepreneurs,” noted Meg Barnhart, Co-Founder of zen of slow cooking, on being named as an award winner. “We were especially excited because the award offers us an opportunity to share our core belief that business can be a force for good in the world. And it also helped us share how grateful we are for the hard working adults with developmental disabilities who have poured their heart and soul into helping us grow."

Awards will be presented during the SFA's Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco at a special ceremony on Sunday, January 21 from 5:00-6:30 pm. A reception sponsored by the Association's Natural & Organic Council will follow the awards ceremony.

Awards will be presented to winners during SFA's Winter Fancy Food Show

Nominations were made earlier this year by members of the Specialty Food Association and others in the specialty food industry. A panel of judges composed of industry experts and influencers selected the honorees from more than 50 nominees. The judges included: Polly Adema, University of the Pacific, San Francisco; Cathy Cochran-Lewis, Whole Foods Market, Austin, TX; Lou Cooperhouse, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; Maren Keeley, Conscious Company Magazine, Seattle; Bruce Nierenberg, Greyston Bakery, Yonkers. NY John Raiche, UNFI, Providence, RI; and Lisa Sposato, City Harvest, New York City.

We at Deli Market News congratulate these well-deserving recipients.

Specialty Food Association