FOODTrade Show

Specialty Food Association’s 2018 Leadership Awards

Industry Aids Children in Haiti, Fire Victims in California, Others in Need

Specialty Food Association’s 2018 Leadership AwardsNEW YORK, NY (November 16, 2017)
 The Specialty Food Association (SFA) announced the six winners of the 2018 Leadership Awards to be presented Sunday, January 21st from 5-6:30 PM at the Winter Fancy Food Show.  A reception sponsored by the Association’s Natural & Organic Council will follow the ceremony. The awards honor food industry frontrunners who go above and beyond by creating positive social, economic, and/or environmental impact through their innovation and vision.

Awards are given in three categories: Business Leadership, Citizenship, and Vision. The sixth annual SFA Leadership Award winners are:


  • 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

Read about the winners
“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. “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.”

Nominations were made 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; Margaret Core, Food Marketing Institute, Washington, DC; 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.

About the Specialty Food Association
The Specialty Food Association is a thriving community of food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs. Established in 1952 in New York, the not-for-profit trade association provides its 3,500 members in the U.S. and abroad with resources, knowledge and connections to champion and nurture their companies in an always-evolving marketplace. The Association owns and produces the Winter and Summer Fancy Food Shows, and presents the sofi™ Awards honoring excellence in specialty food. Learn more at

LinkedIn: Specialty Food Industry Group
Instagram: specialtyfoodassociation

Daniel Potasz, M.S.

Our Science Reporter covers biology, technology and their impact on health. He holds a Masters in Science from UCLA.

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