NJFC President Linda Doherty Statement on $15 Minimum Wage

Linda Doherty, President and CEO of the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) released the following statement after the Senate Labor Committee passed along party lines S-15, legislation which would increase the minimum wage in New Jersey by 79 percent to $15 an hour:

“New Jersey’s food retail and distribution industry employs almost 200,000 workers annually.  This proposed 79 percent minimum wage increase is a drastic rise in labor costs that will result in the loss of food industry jobs and hours worked, and higher prices for New Jersey consumers.

New Jersey’s food industry is shrinking and facing unprecedented competition from online retailers. Some food retailers have been unable to survive these industry challenges.

Economists John Dunham & Associates have conducted a comprehensive economic analysis of New Jersey’s food retail and distribution industry. The data shows that New Jersey has lagged behind national job growth, both in lower-skilled jobs and in total jobs, in almost every year the minimum wage was increased. Following the 2014 minimum wage increase, low wage job growth fell from 2.79 percent to 1.48 percent, a loss of -1.31 percent.

The data reveals a significant increase in the price of groceries and other essentials. The price tag of a $15 minimum wage in increased costs to consumers is nearly $280 million per year. Even more troubling is that seniors age 55 and above, many of whom are on fixed incomes, would bear 40 percent of these increased costs to the tune of nearly $124 million.  Basic necessities would cost more, such as toilet paper, which would increase by 19 percent.

Our stores are the anchor of almost every New Jersey community, and our industry has an impact on the health and wellness of every New Jersey resident. This forced increase will jeopardize new food retail investment and job growth, and will drastically raise prices for food and groceries for all New Jersey families.”

Release: NJ Food Council Awards Clean Communities Scholarship to Egg Harbor City Community School

Clean Communities 2Commending the school for its outstanding recycling and solid waste program, the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) presented the annual Clean Communities Scholarship to Egg Harbor City Community School during the Clean Communities Awards Banquet in Atlantic City.  The $1,000 scholarship is presented annually to a school that demonstrates a strong commitment to environmental stewardship.
“The Egg Harbor City Community School has done an outstanding job of implementing a comprehensive recycling program over the past three years, and as a result, their program has become a national model for school solid waste initiatives,” said Linda Doherty, NJFC President and CEO.  “Most importantly, the program has fostered a positive attitude and culture of recycling throughout the school community.  Instilling the importance of recycling and litter prevention in these young students will have a positive impact on our environment for generations to come.”
Since 2013, the Egg Harbor City Community School has entered the Keep America Beautiful Recycle Bowl Challenge each year, winning the state championship in the first two years (2013 and 2014) and the national championship in the third year (2015).
Clean Communities 1Doherty noted that the successful recycling program involved both staff and students and was implemented in all aspects of the school environment — including classrooms, lunch rooms and school grounds.  As a result of the comprehensive program, students now regularly volunteer to monitor trash in the lunch rooms, while students in the afterschool programs perform regular cleanups of the school playground.  The school also joined the Teracycle program and now collects juice pouches to recycle.
New Jersey Clean Communities is a statewide, comprehensive, litter-abatement program created by the passage of the Clean Communities Act in 1986. Its mission is to reduce litter on public places, promote the volunteer cleanup of public lands and sustain a reduction in litter through education. New Jersey Clean Communities is also home to New Jersey’s Adopt-A-Beach and Adopt-A-Highway programs.
“The Food Council is a steadfast partner of the Clean Communities Program as our business association is one of the architects in establishing this anti-litter program almost 30 years ago.  We believe that supporting deserving school children helps reinforce a new generation who will support clean neighborhoods and a healthier environment”, said Doherty.

Release: NJFC “From Farm to Fork” Day Showcases Fruits of NJ Food Industry

Farm to Fork 1Showcasing the important contributions of the food industry in the Garden State, the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) today joined the New Jersey Food Processors Association, the New Jersey Farm Bureau, and the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association in hosting the fifth annual “From Farm to Fork:  The Food Industry in the Garden State Serves You” at the State House in Trenton.

Throughout the day, key legislators and policy makers visited exhibits in the State House halls and taste-tested beverages and snacks from food retailers, including NJFC members Wegman’s Food Markets, Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, Kings Food Markets, Campbell Soup Company and Vitamin Paste as well as farmers, processors and suppliers.

Farm to Fork 2New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher kicked off the event in the morning by presenting a proclamation to the groups to recognize the work of the multi-billion-dollar food industry in the Garden State.

Additionally, Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic) presented the four food industry organizations with a resolution in the Assembly Chambers.  The resolution, co-sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic), paid tribute to the food industry’s numerous contributions to the State of New Jersey.

“From farm to fork, New Jersey’s food industry is essential to the vitality of our economy, our communities and our residents, generating more than $105 billion each year and employing almost 600,000 workers,” said Linda Doherty, President and CEO of the NJFC.  “This event is an effective opportunity to showcase the latest food products and trends to New Jersey legislators and Administration officials.  It also serves an important reminder of the crucial role we play in the health and wellness of New Jersey’s communities and state economy.”

You can view more photos from the event here.

Release: NJ Food Council Announces 2016 Education Development Scholarship Recipients

Food Industry Announces Largest Education Investment

in Organization’s History

At their annual trade conference in Atlantic City, the New Jersey Food Council’s Education Development Scholarship Program recently announced its scholarship recipients for 2016.

The scholarship program was created with the goal to promote future leaders, create a benefit for NJFC members and their families, and support the food industry.  This year, NJFC and its members awarded 17 scholarships throughout New Jersey, totaling $55,000, which is the largest education investment in the organization’s history.

“On behalf of the food industry, we are thrilled to announce the recipients of our 2016 Education Development Scholarship Program,” said Linda Doherty, President and CEO of NJFC.  “As demonstrated by the growth of our scholarship program over the past several years, NJFC and its members are committed to investing in the education of its workforce and their families.  As future leaders of the food industry, these graduating high school students are well-deserving of this honor and we wish them the best of luck in all of their future endeavors.”

 

NJFC is pleased to award the following scholarships:

Bergen County

Acme Food Markets Scholarship – An award of $2,500 to an employee or family member employed at Acme Food Markets.

Recipient:  Alan Abboud, Acme Food Markets, William Paterson University (Freshman), Mahwah, NJ

 

CBA Industries Scholarship – An award of $5,000 to an employee or family member employed at CBA Industries or an NJFC Retail Food Market.

Recipient:  Ashley Ward, CBA Industries, Susquehanna University (Freshman), Teaneck, NJ

 

Lawrence R. Inserra Memorial Scholarship – An award of $5,000 to an employee or family member of Inserra Supermarkets.

Recipient:  Brittany DeYorgi, Inserra Supermarkets, Rockland Community College (Freshman), Blauvelt, NY

 

Raymond J. Maniaci Memorial Scholarship – An award of $5,000 to a food marketing major student at Saint Joseph’s University.

Recipient:  Krista Harvey, Kings Food Markets, St. Joseph’s University (Junior), River Vale, NJ

 

Camden County

Wawa Education Scholarship – An award of $2,500 to an employee or family member employed at Wawa.

Recipient:  Kaitlyn Lesinski, Wawa, Fairleigh Dickinson University (Sophomore), Magnolia, NJ

 

Wawa Education Scholarship – An award of $2,500 to an employee or family member employed at Wawa.

Recipient:  Karey Fenning, Wawa, Camden County College (Junior), Bellmawr, NJ

 

Cumberland County

Perry Sumas Memorial Scholarship – An award of $5,000 to a student chosen by the Sumas family.

Recipient:  Erikka Wesley, Wawa, Norfolk State University (Freshman), Fairton, NJ

 

Essex County 

NJFC Student Award – An award of $5,000 to a graduating high school senior or college student who is a family member of a full time employee, NJFC employee or part-time student employee.

Recipient:  Matthew Dolce, Glass Gardens ShopRite, Lehigh University (Freshman), West Caldwell, NJ

 

Monmouth County

NJFC Founders Scholarship Award – An award of $2,500 to an employee in a food related member business or future industry leader.

Recipient:  Anthony Sofia, Wegmans Food Markets, TCNJ (Freshman), Clarksburg, NJ

 

NJFC Founders Scholarship Award – An award of $2,500 to an employee in a food related member business or future industry leader.

Recipient:  Zachary Sofia, Wegmans Food Markets, TCNJ (Freshman), Clarksburg, NJ

 

NJFC Thomas Infusino Scholarship Award – An award of $5,000 to one employee in a retail member business.

Recipient: Heather Flanagan, Saker ShopRites, Rutgers University (Senior), Union Beach, NJ

 

Morris County

Spires Family Scholarship – An award of $2,000 to a Kings associate or family member chosen by the Spires family.

Recipient: Gabrielle Rumer, Kings Food Markets, University of New Haven (Freshman), Parsippany, NJ

 

Passaic County 

Cuellar Family ShopRites Scholarship – An award of $2,500 to an employee or family member employed at Cuellar Family ShopRites.

Recipient:  Blair Travis, Cuellar Family ShopRites, William Paterson University (Freshman), Paterson, NJ

 

Grace Scaduto Memorial Scholarship – An award of $2,000 to a student of Monmouth University who is a family member of an employee of NJFC or a member company.

Recipient:  Alyssa Alden, Kings Supermarkets, Monmouth University (Sophomore), Clifton, NJ

 

Union County

QuickChek Corporation Scholarship – An award of $2,000 to an employee or family member employed at QuickChek Corporation.

Recipient:  Olivia Del Vecchio, QuickChek Corporation, Fordham University (Freshman), Cranford, NJ

 

Spires Family Scholarship – An award of $2,000 to a Kings associate or family member chosen by the Spires family.

Recipient:  Molly Tompson, Kings Food Markets, Penn State University or Virginia Tech (Freshman), Springfield, NJ

 

Spires Family Scholarship – An award of $2,000 to a Kings associate or family member chosen by the Spires family.

Recipient: Robert Tompson, Kings Food Markets, Union County College (Freshman), Springfield, NJ

NJFC Statement Expressing Concern with Proposed Minimum Wage Increase

Linda Doherty, President and CEO of the New Jersey Food Council (NJFC) released the following statement regarding S-15, legislation which would increase the minimum wage in New Jersey by 79 percent to $15 an hour:

“New Jersey’s food retail and distribution industry employs almost 200,000 workers annually.  This proposed 79 percent minimum wage increase is a drastic rise in labor costs that will result in the loss of food industry jobs and higher prices for New Jersey consumers.

“New Jersey’s food industry is shrinking and facing unprecedented competition from online retailers, big box stores, drug chains and dollar stores. Some food companies have been unable to survive these industry challenges, as illustrated by the recent bankruptcy of A&P/Pathmark headquartered in New Jersey and the Chapter 11 filing of Fairway Markets with several New Jersey locations.

“Minimum wage increases reduce access to entry level jobs, particularly in labor intensive industries such as food retail and distribution.  Additionally, this legislation does not take into account the fact that our members also provide generous health insurance benefits, 401k match savings plans, and fringe benefits like tuition reimbursement.  These benefits significantly add to labor costs and raise the current wage rate by approximately $8 an hour. If our businesses have to absorb dramatic increases in labor costs, our stores will face tough choices, including cutting the workforce, reducing hours or scaling back benefits.

“A critically important consequence of this proposal is the significant impact on job growth. Economists John Dunham & Associates are in the process of conducting a comprehensive economic analysis of New Jersey’s food retail and distribution industry.  Their initial findings show that New Jersey has lagged behind national job growth, both in lower-skilled jobs and in total jobs, in almost every year the minimum wage was increased.

“Currently, New Jersey is ranked 13th highest in the nation with a $8.38 minimum wage. In reviewing the historic data, New Jersey has lagged behind national job growth, both in lower-skilled jobs and in total jobs, in almost every year the minimum wage was increased. We reason that slow job growth is due to the higher minimum wage having a negative impact on business hiring decisions.

“Over this 25-year span, if New Jersey jobs had kept pace with national job growth, we estimate that there would be 18,000 more lower-skilled jobs and a staggering 620,000 more total jobs by year 2015. To put that in perspective, that is roughly 44 private sector jobs per municipality per year.

“Finally, an increase in the minimum wage will also have an impact on food prices. Since food retailers operate on very slim margins, they would be unable to absorb the entire cost of a 79 percent increase. Our economist’s research indicates that the price of necessities such as toilet paper would go up by 19 percent.  These price increases hurt all New Jersey residents, particularly those who will not see a corresponding rise in their salaries, such as seniors on a fixed income or those who already make above the minimum wage.

“Our stores are the anchor of almost every New Jersey community, and our industry has an impact on the health and wellness of every New Jersey resident. This drastic proposed increase will jeopardize new food retail investment and job growth and will raise prices for food and groceries for all New Jersey families.”