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In a recent discussion about the FPSA Auction, a very loyal member asked how we will hold the event without our members' actual presence as the Annual Conference (where we usually hold the Auction) has been cancelled due to COVID. Maybe we should postpone the Auction until next year?

Given the wide variety of causes that FPSA works with, who depend on our support, the only answer to this question was that we would find a way to hold it virtually.

FPSA first began it's Giving Back program long before FPSA was even created, over 25 years ago when the Meat Industry Suppliers Alliance (MISA) initiated its Meat Science Scholarship program for university undergrads and graduate students looking to start a career in the meat industry. This highly valued scholarship would grow significantly over the years, aiding hundreds of future professionals to get their start in the industry.

The MISA Scholarship would soon be joined by DEFEAT HUNGER, FPSA's collaboration with the Greater Chicago Food Depository to address food insecurity in Illinois' Cook County, generating over 1.6 million meals to date; and Bake for Life, FPSA's support for bakery construction in Africa where young handicapped individuals are trained for a career in baking.

In recent years, the FPSA Giving Back program would take a great leap forward with the Women's Alliance Network when they launched the “Pack It” Program in conjunction with Annual Conference and organizing volunteer teams to assist in local food banks; and all six Industry Councils committing to support different organizations within their particular segment of the industry. This would include collaborating with Greyston Bakery and its efforts to create employment opportunities for those in need; important funding for research in food processing at Michigan State University and the University of California – Davis; support for American heroes and their rehabilitation with 1Soldier 1 Dog 1Team, and Pups4Patriots; professional development scholarships for training of FPSA members in a unique joint effort of the Beverage Council and the Women's Alliance Network; and the Tom Imbordino Memorial Dairy Science Scholarship, funding university studies for this important segment.

These new programs have been funded thanks to generous donations and support of FPSA members in the FPSA Auction. Given the impact that COVID has had on the economy and the challenges that it has presented to these programs, FPSA will hold its first-ever virtual Auction on May 20th at 8 pm ET, hosted by Auctioneer and Comedian James Cunningham. While there is no fee to participate in the Auction, you will need to sign up for it to be invited to the live feed.

Also, for FPSA members who have attended the Auction in the past, you know how much fun it can be to sit back with a good glass of wine and watch James do his thing. For this reason, we will be holding a pre-Auction virtual wine tasting at 6:30 pm ET with ONX Wines. Staff will be sending details about both the wine tasting and the Auction itself over the coming weeks.

In the meantime, if you would like to help us meet our goals with these worthy charities, please consider donating an item for the Auction. The process is straightforward, and our Councils will greatly appreciate it, as will the people that these organizations work with.

We look forward to your participation in these events!

Andy Drennan, SVP of FPSA