Viva Fresh

Nov 2, 2021
Six-month Viva Fresh Clean Eating Challenge kicks off

The Third Annual Viva Fresh Clean Eating Challenge is finally here and ready to change more lives. After two successful years where participants have lost over 650 pounds and gained years to their lives, the health and wellness challenge continues to draw interest from industry hopefuls looking for a change.

Officially kicking off this week, the six-month challenge presented by the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) will culminate at the 2022 Viva Fresh Expo on April 21-23, 2022 at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Dallas, a news release stated.

As is often the case in life, the students become the teachers: this year Ashley Ojeda (H-E-B) and John Toner (United Fresh Produce Association), 2020 Clean Eating Challenge Featured Participants, will lead a group along with returning mentors – Ed Bertaud (IFCO), James Bassetti (Little Bear Produce) and TJ Flowers (Lone Star Citrus Growers).

Past Clean Eating Challenge participants experienced many benefits from their journey – sometimes life changing – such as weight loss, reduction in the amount of medications taken, lowered cholesterol, regulated blood sugar, and an overall increased consumption of fruits and vegetables – the true focus of the challenge.

The 2021-2022 batch of challengers will receive more individual attention through the additional aid of professionals including a registered dietitian and a fitness coach. While not every applicant was chosen, fourteen industry members were selected to try their hand at their own journey to wellness and healthier living. Challenge participants span eight states and one Canadian province, are between the ages of 25 and 60 and have cited wellness goals that include weight loss, better sleep, improving health and energy, eliminating medications, gaining self-confidence and setting a good example for friends, family and peers.

Accountability, shared experience and moral support are a big part in changing behavior.  As such, the Viva Fresh Clean Eating Challenge “Featured Participants” will share their progress with the public via blogs and vlogs, which can be found on the Viva Fresh Clean Eating Challenge website. The website also features workouts, healthy eating tips and recipes.

This year’s Clean Eating Challenge Featured Participants are:

Beth Keeton, Elephant House PR

Blair Butterworth, Pacific Trellis Fruit/Dulcinea Farms

Cameron Roberts, H-E-B

Dan Kaho, FullTilt Marketing

George Szczepanski, PMA

Jashon Newlun, Category Partners

Jay Alley, Fresh Innovations LLC

Jeffrey Kleypas, Decco Postharvest

Jeremy Taylor, DNO Produce

Jessica Ortega, Gills Onions

Mark Campbell, Produce IQ

Megan Jacobsen, Gills Onions

Pat Young, IFCO

T.J. Rahll, Robinson Fresh

The Clean Eating Challenge has meant different things to different people over the years – for some it is losing weight, for others it is simply taking control of their health and using food as medicine – and it was no different for this year’s new mentors.

“What I love most about the Clean Eating Challenge is the timeframe. Six months sounds intimidating, but when you are committed to your healthy journey, that stretch is needed to reset current habits and create new routines,” Ashley Ojeda Porter, associate business development manager/buyer for H-E-B, said in the news release. “Getting in shape is hard. Being overweight is hard. Starting from scratch is hard. Realizing you are stagnant is hard. Sharing your story is hard. Staying quiet is hard. As a mentor this year my goal is to help remind my team why they chose their hard. If this challenge were easy…everyone would be doing it.”

“Getting clean, in mind and in body, has allowed me to see the world much more clearly on life’s essential priorities – health and happiness,” said John Toner, vice president, United Fresh Produce Association. “We often confuse short term satisfaction over long term success. I am looking forward to mentoring this year’s class – my group is going to win!”

The Clean Eating Challenge will culminate on April 23 at the Viva Fresh Produce Expo in Dallas, Texas with the results reveal at Saturday’s Keynote Luncheon.

For more information on the 2022 Viva Fresh Produce Expo, visit Registration, airfare and hotel expenses are complimentary for qualifying retail and foodservice companies.

The Viva Fresh Produce Expo was established in 2015 by the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) to create meaningful networking and educational opportunities for its members while shining a light on the importance of the Rio Grande Valley as an emerging trade corridor and production zone for healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables available all year long.

For more information, visit

The Texas International Produce Association (TIPA) was founded in 1942 and represents over 330 member companies as they educate, advocate, promote and represent the fresh produce industry of more than $10 billion dollars that is either produced in Texas or considers Texas its first point of arrival for domestic distribution.

For more information, visit

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