The golden rule in the South is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you—without expecting anything in return. Southerners don’t give or dole out favors as an obligation, but instead do it out of courtesy, respect, and compassion. We treat the people we meet like they are family—there are no strangers, just friends we haven’t met yet.
This is the foundation that has made the Southeast Produce Council (SEPC) stand out for the past 20 years. It is not a gimmick or a marketing tactic; it is a sincere compassion for others that is ingrained in the purpose of the organization.
Around this time last year, the Southeast Produce Council was preparing to celebrate its 20th anniversary and accomplishments within itself. This year, however, SEPC is turning its focus not on what it has received and how it has grown, but instead on what it provides and how it makes a difference in the communities within and surrounding our industry. SEPC’s Chairman of the Board, Brandon Parker of Shuman Farms, has chosen a platform of service entitled, “Make a Difference” during his term. He is at the helm of this vision of looking past what we can get out of Southern Exposure 2020 to feature what we can give back.
Through our SEPC Cares initiative, we are committed to supporting our Southeastern communities through the generous giving of our passionate members’ time, energy, and resources. We work with fellow nonprofit organizations to educate people of all ages about the benefits of healthy eating and the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in order to make a positive impact on the lives of children and families.
We are actively involved with the following organizations:
– Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children –
SEPC is proud to provide funding each year, including sponsoring its annual Healthy Lifestyles Camp as well as the Walk for Winnie, to help make sure those visiting this hospital get the best care possible.
– Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta –
SEPC supports the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life Superhero Sprint each June in Atlanta, Georgia, through the donation of volunteer hours, products, and fundraising.
– Palmer Home for Children –
Through SEPC’s participation in the Palmer Home for Children’s annual Radiothon fundraiser, we are able to donate matching funds to aid in its Ag Literacy Program. We are also planning to contribute to its installation of greenhouses and planting beds.
– Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH) –
SEPC has been able to help donate funds and bring projects like the Goodness Garden to life to help supply fresh fruits and vegetables. The boys are also taught about horticulture and the basic care and nurturing needed to grow produce. We have also provided resources and man hours to build a chicken coop for the boys and continue to support the solid foundation and life education PAYH is instilling in each and every one of those young men.
– Society of St. Andrew –
Through our partnership with Society of St. Andrew, we are able to do our part to help feed America’s hungry. In addition to financial support, as well as disaster relief donations, SEPC is honored to work with the Society of St. Andrew to donate all leftover product from Southern Exposure and Southern Innovations each year to help those who are hungry in the Southeast. To date, the SEPC has become the largest distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables to the needy in the Tampa and Orlando, Florida, areas.
“The platform of ‘Make a Difference’ is at the heart of who we are at SEPC. From cause marketing, to sustainability in our work environment, to lending a helping hand to a community or organization in need, or even just putting a smile on a co-worker or family member’s face when they’re having a bad day…we all have so many opportunities to give back. This council continues to give selflessly, whether it be for its members, the communities we represent, or in providing the latest information on trending topics in our industry, the SEPC truly ‘makes a difference.’ So, I want to challenge everyone to Make a Difference in our industry and communities.”
Such grateful giving will be highlighted throughout Southern Exposure, from an SEPC University educational session on cause-based marketing to encouragement for exhibitors to feature how they make a difference within their booth display during the exposition. The SEPC feels that by issuing this challenge to exhibitors, we will in turn create a more familial atmosphere as exhibitors and attendees alike find common ground in serving others for the greater good of our industry and our world.