Nonprofit Red Tomato, a distributor of produce from mid-sized farms in the Northeast to the region’s grocery stores and institutions, said its longtime director of operations, Angel Mendez, has been tapped to lead the nonprofit as executive director.
Plainville, Mass.-based Red Tomato, a vocal advocate of a more sustainable, ethical food system, has marketed nearly 1.8 million cases, or over 60 million pounds, of fresh, locally grown produce, generating more than $44 million in sales over the past two decades.
Mendez, the first person of color to lead the organization, and only the third executive director in Red Tomato’s 21 year history, had served as interim director since April after Laura Edwards-Orr left the nonprofit after five years at the helm.
Mendez, a Boston-area native, has been with Red Tomato for 18 years, including most recently as director of operations, overseeing logistics, finance, IT, and office management. He also has a strong background in logistics, management, finance and local food supply chains.
“It’s a challenging but exciting time for Red Tomato,” said Mendez. “We’ve had ups and downs in our sales over the last several years and we’re having to work harder than ever to find a place in the market for our region’s farmers. But we have weathered these kinds of challenges for 22 years, and I’m ready to lead the Red Tomato team to overcome these challenges and continue to position Red Tomato for longevity as we have an infinite road ahead of us.”
For the past two years, Mendez has also served as a Wallace Center/Winrock mentor for three classes of food system colleagues from around the country, and is currently treasurer on the board of the Urban Farming Institute based in Mattapan, Mass. He also serves on the board for the Oke USA/Equal Exchange banana company.
“I’ve worked side by side with Angel for two decades,” notes Red Tomato founder and Evangelist, Michael Rozyne, “We opened up the warehouse together at 4:00 a.m. back when we had a warehouse. We’ve climbed into watermelon bins together to find that putrid leaker of a melon. We were the last two working late so many Fridays when the volume was heavy and we had to set up the busy weekend logistics. We’ve served on the management team together the past six years.” Noting that their entire 6-person team is thrilled to have Mendez taking the helm, Rozyne says, “Angel knows every inch of this business and organization. We haven’t yet handed him something he couldn’t do. I can’t wait to see what happens next!