TRENTON – There was no shortage of pressing topics at the Food Council Committee for Good Government’s 45th Annual “Good Government” Breakfast recently at Forsgate Country Club, as more than 200 state lawmakers and food industry leaders discussed key issues and honored industry professionals and policy makers making a huge difference for NJ consumers.

It was evident that the mid-term elections are here, in a room comprising prominent Democrats and Republicans lawmakers who listened to a speech from Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Bob Hugin. His Democratic opponent, Sen. Bob Menendez, could not attend because of a voting session.

The annual event was sponsored by the Food Council Committee for Good Government, a non-profit political action committee that aids and promotes the election of state lawmakers who support the priorities of food retailers.

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“The food industry is a vital and significant part of the state’s fiscal well-being, so it is no surprise that we look to our political leaders to support pro-business initiatives that will spark New Jersey’s food retail industry,” explained Phil Scaduto, Vice President of Foodtown/Food Circus and Chairman of the Food Council Committee for Good Government.

“Today, our food distribution industry is feeling great pressure from different types of formats who are all getting into the grocery business. But remember, Food Council members are the anchor of our communities. New Jerseyans depend on the food industry for health and wellness, generous charitable giving, support to food banks and civic groups, and community assistance during emergencies. We possess a unique relationship with the public sector in order to promote business prosperity and support the health and wellness of NJ consumers,” he added.

Attendees saluted four honorees in business and government who are making an impact in the state’s food industry.

John Wachter of Murphy’s Markets of South Jersey received the Good Government Award, the highest honor received by food industry members who participate in advocacy efforts aiming to assist state legislators, government officials, and policymakers in formulating policies that are important to New Jersey’s food industry.

Wachter, of Beach Haven, said he “truly enjoys” working with state lawmakers on legislative issues involving the food industry. “I assisted our lawmakers in making informed decisions from my many years of experience,” he said. “This organization is a remarkable team, the foundation based on a membership of competitors who work together to keep our industry healthy – from single stores to international corporations.”

Senate President Steven Sweeney (D-3) received the Thomas W. Kelly Government Service Award for his continued support of the success of New Jersey’s food industry throughout his tenure in the State Legislature.

“Senate President Sweeney is a role model for all public servants at any level of government,” said Linda Doherty, president of the New Jersey Food Council. “He is a fearless leader who understands the challenges businesses face in this state and the important role New Jersey’s food industry plays in building strong vibrant communities.”

In accepting the award, Sweeney noted that he has a child with disabilities and applauded the food industry for its open hiring practices, creating opportunities for all New Jerseyans eager to work.

The Senate President used his acceptance speech to promote bi-partisan efforts in Trenton to solve fiscal woes. “We need to fix New Jersey; we are in a dangerous place,” he said.

“We can’t raise taxes anymore,” Sweeney added, noting the state is careening toward a $3.5 billion deficit by 2024. “This state is worth saving; it is an amazing, amazing state,” he said. “But people say as soon as their kids get out of school, they will leave.  We need to reverse that trend and fix tax policy.”

State Sen. Dawn Addiego (R-8) received the Outstanding Legislator Award for serving as an important, independent voice in Trenton. When the State Legislature debates business policy, she is mindful of the potential impact on the state’s food retail community and is willing to work in a bi-partisan fashion.

In accepting the award, Addiego said she recognizes the importance of the food industry, especially through its work to address food insecurity in New Jersey communities through partnerships with food banks.

 “Supermarkets are so important to everyday life, fostering a warm family dinner,” the Senator said. “There is nothing like being gathered around the dinner table, asking about our days and being involved in each other’s lives. You make that possible.”

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-6) also received the Outstanding Legislator Award for striving to improve the state's business climate and support the goals of the food industry. 

 Lampitt talked about her job overseeing food services at the University of Pennsylvania, adding she knows the struggles of the food industry to recruit and retain employees to maintain profitability.

 “Food is the vital part in the growing and nurturing of community,” Lampitt said. “I applaud each of you for working in a very challenging environment. What you do for your communities is second to none.”

The FCCfGG was formed in 1973 with the support of the New Jersey Food Council to aid those responsible elected state officials and candidates who share a common objective for good government.