As a principal local forager for Whole Foods Market Northeast, Chris Manca most recently spearheaded efforts to source uniquely regional products for the grocer’s newly opened Massapequa Park, N.Y., store.
Jennifer Strailey: How long have you been a forager for Whole Foods Market, and what are the keys to being successful in this role?
Chris Manca: I am in my fifth year as a local forager for Whole Foods Market in our Northeast region. I think all of our local foragers are united by a passion for supporting local brands and finding the very best locally made products in our regions. One of the keys to success in this role is understanding that every local supplier is unique, and sometimes you need to meet them where they are. Some brands are ready-made to hit the shelves, and some need more guidance and mentoring. It’s all part of a larger journey to help local brands succeed on our shelves.
What’s the most unique attribute of the new Massapequa store, and what will the store contribute to the community?
I think our selection of local brands and products makes our Massapequa store a really unique addition to the community. We’re specifically proud of the amount of Long Island-based suppliers on our shelves in that store. Shoppers from the Massapequa area can feel great knowing that their purchases are supporting local brands based right in their hometowns.
What’s one local product at the Massapequa store that you are most excited to share with customers? Why?
There are so many great local brands on the shelves in Massapequa, but if I had to pick one, I would want to shine a spotlight on Coastal Craft Kombucha. Their kombucha is made on Long Island and is some of the very best we’ve had. We love to support Rachel Rappa and her team over at Coastal Craft.
How does the team at Whole Foods Massapequa plan to connect with shoppers and the community?
Whole Foods Market plans to connect with the community by donating $5,000 to Island Harvest’s Turkey and Trimmings Collection Campaign in addition to participating in local events including Jones Beach Energy and Nature Center’s Halloweekend Celebration and Massapequa Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting Ceremony.