Thousands of specialty food items have been arriving at Rutgers Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton since February in preparation for Specialty Food Association’s Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation, or sofi Awards.
The competition, the most prestigious in specialty foods according to the SFA, has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the FIC and SFA are donating the perishable foods to local residents.
“Our members are dedicated to combating hunger and food waste. It is comforting to know that they are making a real difference to the local community in need,” said Ron Tanner, vice president of philanthropy, government, and industry relations for the Specialty Food Foundation, in a prepared statement.
The association and center donated specialty foods including breads and tortillas, coffees and teas, a wide variety of cheeses, dips, yogurt, honey, soups, snacks, chocolates, and specialty candies to local nonprofit Gateway Community Action Partnership.
“We are grateful to have these truly special foods to provide to our community, especially at this time where our residents are at a greater need than we have seen in recent months,” said Marcus Weaver, director of agriculture and food initiatives for Gateway Community Action Partnership, in a prepared statement.
The SFA selected FIC as the new host location for the 2020 sofi Awards earlier this year. The sofi Awards have been held annually since 1972 to recognize innovation and taste, and to highlight the flavors and the creativity found in the specialty foods industry.
“Every cloud has a silver lining, and I am so glad that the Food Innovation Center, with the support of the Specialty Food Association and the food company applicants, we [are] able to bring these delicious foods to our neighbors in Bridgeton during this challenging time,” said FIC co-founder Margaret Brennan-Tonetta.