When Elmer and I started this business 40 years ago, we couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams that the company would grow to this size. Elmer simply had a plan to give his children a business of their own—that was what he wanted to leave as his legacy.


He had been a mechanical engineer for 29 years, but he had a wonderful business sense and he knew that he could start his own business. He clearly passed on that “can do” attitude to our children. He taught them well, and they listened. Before he passed, at only 57 years old, I asked him if he wanted to leave any advice or instructions about the business. But he said no, that Whitsons was in good hands and he was sure we would succeed.


We didn’t have an initial plan to get into the food service business. Elmer looked at many different business opportunities. We settled on food because in our family, it was a big thing. Just feeding our family was a big job, and eventually we realized it was the right choice for us.


Now, after all these years, I know our entire Whitsons “family” feels good about providing a service that helps people in a very personal way. I appreciate that together, we have built a company whose team members genuinely get pleasure from serving our customers and making them feel happy and satisfied.


When we first started, it was just our three oldest sons, Bill, Doug and Bob, who worked full-time at the Bon Bon in Garden City. They had all graduated from college and worked in other businesses, but they liked their dad’s idea of starting a business and working with each other. The others all helped out too, and as each of our children graduated college, they expanded their roles in the company to full-time, and it’s worked incredibly well for them. I am so proud of what they have accomplished together.


Everyone worked long, hard hours in the beginning. I baked a lot of cakes and pies for the shops in those days. But nobody seemed to mind, because we were building something. We moved into food service management, serving the Traveler’s Insurance Company. They relocated a few years later, and then the AAA moved in, and the business just grew and grew from there. Now with close to 3000 team members and over $175 million in sales, I’m not quite sure this was ever what Elmer had expected; I don’t think he had foreseen how many others would become involved, or the depth of success we would experience—though he would never have doubted it.


There is nothing more joyful for me than to come to work every day to see my children and our extended family of team members, successfully working together. That was one of the reasons Elmer wanted to start the business, to keep our family together, and I am so happy that it worked. As fortunate as we’ve been, I can’t say I was ever surprised. I know that their father would be extremely proud of them. I’m sure he’s in Heaven smiling down at them—and at you.


Our gratitude goes out to all of you, for your years of support, hard work and brilliant ideas that have helped to shape our company. Without each one of you, whatever your role may be, we would not be the company that we are today. So on behalf of Elmer, myself and the entire Whitcomb family, thank you for a wonderful forty years. May the next forty be just as successful.


Gina Whitcomb-Daly




“Since my parents started the business in 1979, two things clearly stand out as consistent throughout the years: food and family. Our foundation is set on strong family values, while our future remains focused on sustainable, real food. Food that is wholesome, rooted in quality and intended to nourish the body and spirit of those we serve. The unique structure of our family business places a strong emphasis on teamwork and entrepreneurial spirit, which drives our company’s culture. Our story is deeply rooted in food and family.” -Paul Whitcomb, President and CEO





As I reflect on what it means to be celebrating our 40th anniversary, I realize how the success of our future, like most experiences in life, comes from traveling in the footsteps of those before us. We benefit from the experiences of our teachers and predecessors, and then empowered with our own unique talents and perspectives, we strive to continue growing and creating opportunities by sharing our own wisdom with others.


Forty years ago, my father had a vision to start our family business. He took everything he had learned from his many years at Sperry, and from the people he interacted with, and invested that knowledge (and his life savings) into a legacy for his nine children.


From there, my older siblings followed, until eventually all nine of us played a crucial role in the continued growth of the company. We took what we learned from our parents and built upon that base by merging our nine different perspectives and experiences. It wasn’t always easy, but we found the common ground we needed to push forward and succeed together.


Along the way, we began working with an extended family of team members, in all kinds of roles, who brought their own professional expertise and insight to the table. We continued to flourish with this combined wisdom, leading us to grow the business exponentially into new territories, thrive in new industries, and achieve notable milestones.


The groundwork from the last 40 years has been laid; and all of the footsteps we take today are paving the way for future generations. We each have the responsibility to pass on the lessons we’ve learned to others. We also have the responsibility to allow others to share their own gifts and experiences with us as part of the continuous improvement process. We all—no matter the position or length of service—have something valuable to give and something more to learn. It is this personal exchange that creates opportunity for us to grow as individuals, and to grow our company.


Know that you, our valuable team members and extended family, play an important role in our business and our collective legacy. Share your knowledge and your passion with the person standing next to you. Thank the person who made you a better worker, or a better leader. Help the person struggling with a challenge you’ve already conquered. Welcome the new person and show them what it means to be part of the Whitsons team.

Continue to be the best part of someone’s day.


On this, our 40th anniversary, I celebrate what each of you brings to our family business. I am thankful for the chance that my parents took to start the company. I am thankful for the opportunity to work with each of you. I am thankful to play my part in the ongoing evolution of Whitsons, and I look forward to seeing how we all leave our own footsteps as we watch the next 40 years unfold.



In good health,


Paul Whitcomb

President and CEO






1979: First Restaurant: The BON BON, Garden City NY


1988: First Residential Services account in New York


1981: First Corporate Dining account in New York


1982: First Vending Services account in New York


1988: First corporate headquarters: West Hills Road, Huntington, NY


1989: First School Nutrition account in New York


1990: Original restaurants are sold, allowing us to focus on the next phase


1991: First Prepared Meals account in New York


1993: First major Emergency Services response: World Trade Center bombing


1994: Signature Series branded menu concepts developed


1995: Expansion into New Jersey


1995: First College/University account in New York


1995: Whitsons Gourmet Catering division launches


1996: New corporate headquarters: Huntington Station, NY


1996: First Culinary Center opens in Huntington Station, NY


1999: Expansion into Connecticut


2001: World Trade Center Rescue and Recover Effort, 4 million meals served


2001: First Healthcare account in New York


2001: Robert Whitcomb, CEO, serves as President of the SFM


2002: Bronx, New York Culinary Center opens


2003: Award-winning Nutrition Safari nutrition education program launches


2004: Queens Culinary Center opens


2006: Elizabeth Culinary Center opens


2006: Islandia, NY Headquarters and USDA-inspected culinary center opens


2006: First contract for producing prepared meals for a retail brand


2008: Expansion into Massachusetts


2008: Whitsons reaches $100 million in sales


2009: Robert Whitcomb, CEO, wins IFMA Silver Plate Award


2009: Greenleaf Cuisine local purchasing initiative instituted


2009: First Whitsons vehicle running on biodiesel fuel hits the road


2009: Taskforce Green environmental conservation program launched


2010: NuLife Foods gluten free foods line launches


2010: First order fulfillment account


2011: Boston culinary center opens


2011: Simply Classic Meals by Whitsons launches


2011: Whitsons Family Foundation instituted


2011: WMP (Whitsons Menu Program) launches version 1.0


2011: Whitsons ranks 16th largest foodservice company nationwide


2012: Whitsons reaches $150 million in sales


2012: Islandia culinary center achieves BRC certification


2013: First foodservice provider to bring monthly local produce to MA schools


2014: Whitsons expands the Elizabeth, NJ culinary center


2015: Paul Whitcomb becomes president and CEO


2015: Whitsons brings cage free shell eggs to all contract management accounts


2016: Tastefully Plated frozen retail meals are launched


2016: Whitsons implements Dine Central, business enterprise system


2017: Whitsons becomes a U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion


2017: Whitsons introduces Simply Rooted philosophy


2018: Tastefully Plated launches new paleo friendly certified meals


2018: Whitsons publishes Green Report on environmental sustainability


2018: Whitsons reached $175 million in sales


2018: Whitsons School Nutrition launches Meatless Monday at all schools


2019: Whitsons Culinary Group celebrates 40 years of food and family








We probably all know the story: Elmer Whitcomb started a little restaurant in Garden City called the Bon Bon in 1979 and from there, Whitsons Culinary Group grew. But what about the man behind the story? Many of us only know Elmer Whitcomb from the dedication plaque in the lobby of the corporate office. But there was so much more to the man who poured his heart and soul into his company than we may know. Below, those who knew Elmer best share their fondest thoughts with us.


“My dad always felt that all his children had strengths and talents. He tried to outline the company when he was alive and set it up so we would gravitate to our natural areas of expertise.” Mike


“He had a pretty decent sense of humor. When he found something funny, he would laugh and his whole body would shake. And you couldn’t help but laugh with him.” Beth


“When we were young, he used to play the piano for us. And he used to take us to the Sperry Gyroscope company picnic at Jones Beach. We looked forward to it every year.” Bill


“He was very precise - a stickler for detail and doing things himself. He was always hands-on. He never allowed people to take that creativity away from him.” Andy


“He was very technically smart, very analytical. And extremely intelligent. But he was never active on the floor. He was a very shy person by nature. He was not well suited personality-wise to being in a business that serves the public. But he knew the importance of customer service and he trained us about it.” Bob


“My father was kind of a practical joker and you never knew if what he said was the truth or a joke.” Paul


“He knew how to make the right decisions, but he let us make the wrong ones so we could learn from our mistakes. He was courageous in starting this business, putting every nickel he had on the line. When he was supposed to be enjoying his later years, he was building our foundation. Not many people would do that.” John


“Now that I am a father myself, I finally realize the extent of the sacrifices he made to care for his family. And I admire him for that.” Doug


“He was a very devoted father. A very unselfish man. Very loving. A great husband. He was a disciplinarian, but in a nice way. He was much easier on the girls than he was on the boys. A real gentleman. That’s him in a few words.” Gina








• The United States and Soviet Union reached an agreement during the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks during June of 1979.

• U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Soviet Leader Leonid Brezhnev signed the SALT II treaty in Vienna after having held several talks regarding the reduction of nuclear arms from 1972 to 1979.

• The Three Mile Island Nuclear Accident happened.

• China instituted the one child per family rule.

• The U.S. Voyager I’s Space-probe photos revealed Jupiter’s rings.

• For the first time in history, in 1979 a woman, Margaret Thatcher, is elected Prime minister in the U.K.

• As technology becomes smaller, Sony released the Walkman, a worldwide success costing $200, which at that time was a significant amount of money!

• The first snowboard was invented in the U.S.

• The bombing by the IRA in England continued with Lord Mountbatten and three others assassinated.

• The NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers won their record third Super Bowl.

• McDonalds introduced the Happy Meal.




• Yearly Inflation Rate USA: 11.2%

• Year End Close Dow Jones Industrial Average: 838

• Interest Rates Year End Federal Reserve: 15.25%

• Average Cost of New House: $58,100.00

• Average Income Per Year: $17,500.00

• Average Monthly Rent: $280.00

• Cost of a Gallon of Gas: $0.86




• Superman The Movie

• Every Which Way But Loose

• Rocky II

• Alien

• The Amityville Horror

• Star Trek: The Motion Picture

• Moonraker

• The Muppet Movie

• The Deer Hunter

• Kramer vs. Kramer




• Bee Gees with “Love You Inside Out”

• Rod Stewart

• Gloria Gaynor with “I Will Survive”

• Blondie with “Heart of Glass”

• Michael Jackson

• The Eagles

• Commodores

• Pink Floyd

• The Police

• Village People

• Boomtown Rats







In tribute to our 40 years of food and family, some of our long-standing team members share their fondest memories of being a part of the Whitsons extended family.


‘’I’ll never forget Mr. Elmer. I remember one time Mrs. Whitcomb said, ‘Elmer, you can’t eat that roast beef.’ And Mr. Elmer came over one day and said, ‘Renee, don’t say anything to Mrs. Whitcomb, but I ate some roast beef.’ He was such a nice man. He treated everybody with such respect and you felt like part of the family. When you look back on those times, it was so difficult to work. We just relied on each other. And now you come to this big office and say, ‘Wow.’ The sacrifices of those times have really worked.” – Renee Calderon, Chef Manager, Hicksville High School, 38 years of service


“One of my fondest memories of working with Whitsons happened while sitting in a sales meeting over 25 years ago. A prospective client, who eventually became a long term client, inadvertently referred to me as

‘Kelly Whitcomb,’ assuming because there were three other Whitcombs in attendance, that I was also a family member. When I started to correct her and provide my actual surname, Doug stopped me right there and said, ‘Kelly may have another legal name, but she will always be a Whitcomb to us. She is definitely a family member.’ To this day I will never forget that, and I have felt as much a part of this family as I am with my very own.” -KellyAnn Friend, Chief Operating Officer, Contract Management, 28 years of service


“I have been with Whitsons since 1986 and had many a good time with the Whitcombs. I worked with Bill, John and Doug quite often at the Bon Bon. They used to have this green work van that would break down every 1/4 mile or so, and we would have to push it. John also used to drive a Honda Accord that broke down all the time. One day at LILCO, we were having a really bad snow storm and John leaves. A little while later he comes back and, of course, the car broke down in the middle of the parking lot, and he asked me to help him to push the car in the middle of a snow storm. I remember another time when I was working with Andy on a BBQ catering in Great Neck, and we were cleaning and loading up the truck at the end of the day. We put the ice cream freezer in the back of the box truck, but apparently did not latch the back correctly because after driving for a while, up and down hills, the freezer rolled out of the box truck and I ended up chasing the ice cream freezer down the road.” – Jose Calderon, Chef Manager, 33 years of service


“It has been a pleasure working with Whitsons. It’s a great working environment and a place where we all help each other. So many memories, I can’t write them all down. One memory was during Super Storm Sandy; I worked by myself for 48 hours, serving breakfast lunch and dinner for 120 people. I slept in my chair in the office without showering or shaving. I don’t know how I did it. It was an experience I will never forget. Thank you again for letting me work with this company, and for trusting me as manager.” - Fred Hakimi, Food Service Director, SCO Family of Services, 22 years of service


“I knew I wanted to work for Whitsons once I walked into the office and viewed all of the Whitcomb family history, memorabilia and accomplishments within the foyer area and office walls. All of the dreams and aspirations that I wanted in my business life have come to fruition since that day, and here I am, 20 years later. I am very excited about the organization’s future. I have said it before, and I will continue to say, that I ‘bleed green,’ just like a member of the Whitcomb family. Congratulations on the first 40 years! Here’s to great success for many more to come.” - John Gersbeck, Senior VP of Operations, 20 years of service


“The first time I met John Whitcomb was in 1998. I just started working for at the snack bar at the Plainview Old-Bethpage High School. A gentleman walked over and I asked him, ‘What can I get you?’ He said, ‘Nothing, thank you.’ He put his hand out to shake mine and said, ‘Hi, I’m John Whitcomb. Everything looks great.’ About 4 years later, I went to work in Hicksville Schools with Nancy Yates. Every time after that when I saw John, I would shake his hand and say, ‘Hi John, I am Virginia Polit. I work with Nancy Yates in Hicksville.’ At our last Night of The Stars dinner a few years later, I saw John on the dance floor. I went over to him to say hello and put my hand out to shake his, and before I could say anything, he said to me, ‘I know, you are Virginia and you work with Nancy in Hicksville.’ We both laughed. Twenty years later, I am still with Whitsons. Thank you to Whitsons and congratulations on 40 years.” – Virginia Polit, Food Service Director, Hicksville Schools, 20 years of service





Team members today have truly embraced our mission of Enhancing Life One Meal at a Time™, as recognized by the members of the communities they serve. Thank you all for helping us to make a difference in the lives we touch!



“Dear Dana [Brown, Lead Cashier at Hutchinson Elementary School], I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge my deep gratitude concerning your actions this morning on behalf of one of our students. After witnessing a bicycle accident, you not only called for help and saw to the student’s well-being, but you went a step further to inform the school that the accident had occurred and even drove Mr. Llewellyn and I to the scene. As principal, I count on all our Pelham Middle School family to work together to ensure the well-being of our students and of one another, and the community of Pelham needs this same commitment from its citizens. I felt blessed today to have been on the receiving end of your selfless dedication to your school and community. Thank you for all you did this morning to help keep our students safe.” – Lynn M. Sabia, Principal, Pelham Middle School



“Dear Maureen [Rice, FSD at Commack Schools], On behalf of the District, I want to thank you for all your efforts today! Just handling the emergency evacuation to WP from Sawmill was enough, but to drop everything, and also be down your right hand man (Robin), have SYSCO and DOH is amazing! Your staff at Sawmill did not miss a beat; they were prepping and cooking and right away said they would be ready to serve the kids...and they were! Sincerely, we thank all of you; well done!!” – Laura Newman, Assistant Superintendent for Business, Commack Schools



“I would like to make you aware of a situation that occurred today at JFK Elementary School. Due to a frozen water main break causing a loss of domestic water, it became necessary to transport all JFK students to the

High School. Upon being notified, Kathleen Cavallo [FSD, East Islip Schools] quickly jumped into action and began preparing lunch at the High School for all the students from JFK. After the frozen water main thawed and the domestic water was restored, students were able to return to JFK. Most of the fourth grade was fed at the HS, while the remaining students were fed later in the day at JFK. Please extend my gratitude to Kathleen and her staff for making a difficult situation much easier to deal with. Their efforts were greatly appreciated and did not go unnoticed.” - Stephen D. Harrison, Assistant Superintendent for Business, East Islip UFSD



“On behalf of SCO Family of Services, thank you [Whitsons Team] for your generous donation of gifts this holiday season. Because of you, we were able to increase our gift giving and provide a happy holiday season for more than 6,200 children, teens, and families in our care. You made a difference and it is greatly appreciated! Your donation helped brighten the holiday season for those we serve. We are so grateful to you for your commitment to our work. Thank you for caring!” - Marnie Katzman, Development Officer and Lisa Forgione, Program Support Center Associate, SCO Family of Services




Kim Hardwick, Principal of Center Moriches’ Clay Huey Elementary Schools, expressed her gratitude for two of Whitsons’ hard-working team members:


“Dear Sharon [Wasik-Pedesen], Your ability to always jump in where needed is so impressive and I am always so grateful for you. The fact that you volunteered for an additional six hours AFTER a full day’s work was extremely generous of you and you always jump in with a warm smile and kind heart. I observed you chatting with Lauryn nd sharing your skills with her in such a nurturing way. I appreciate so many things about you, Sharon, but what truly touched my heart is how you speak to all children here at Clayton Huey. It is with the support of our community, and individuals like you, that make it possible to create amazing experiences for our students. Thank you for all that you do to foster the best learning environment for our children--both in and out of the cafeteria!”


“Dear Wendy [Michalski], I wanted to commend you for the outstanding job you have been doing in our cafeteria since your arrival. The atmosphere in the cafeteria has improved significantly as a direct reflection of the

Dynamic Duo--you and Sharon! I can assure you that the cafeteria was not always such a special place to be, but with your daily smiles and positive attitude, our students are treated with a great deal of kindness and patience. The time spent at lunch is very important for our students, as this not only offers a time for nourishment, it also provides much needed “down time” during a day that has more demands than ever academically, socially and emotionally. Thank you for all that you do in creating a haven for our children to relax in, knowing that the lunch professionals care about them and want them to have a healthy and delicious lunch!”





Elmer and Gina started the business 40 years ago with everything they had: all of their savings, a remortgaged house and a leap of faith. While they lacked restaurant experience, they did have determination and the belief that a family working together could accomplish anything.


Forty years later, the Whitcomb family remains actively involved in the company’s management working alongside foodservice, culinary, and nutrition professionals that are all part of the Whitsons team. Currently led by the Whitcomb sons and daughter, members of the third generation are actively involved and have begun developing their own leadership skills and engaging in the strategic growth process of the company. It is this foundation of family values that first built the company, and now continues to lead Whitsons to future success.


As we journey into the future, we will continue to build upon our Simply Rooted® philosophy, innovate our services, deepen our focus on whole food and family values, and remain committed to sustainability. Following are just a few examples of some of our current initiatives.



Whitsons School Nutrition is proud to introduce a new and exciting way to access the nutritional information for your elementary and secondary school menus! The menus posted in your school district’s website will now be interactive PDFs. Just click on any menu items on to access our nutrition portal and obtain nutritional information such as: calorie content, fat grams, sodium, allergens, etc. Our new menus will be available this fall 2012.


Nutri-Cafe and Smart Calc, our current nutritional information systems, will still be in place until our new interactive menus are implemented, so you can continue to view the nutritional content of the menus.

Visit and click on “elementary” or “secondary” to review these resources!



Designated as an official U.S. Food Loss and Waste 2030 Champion organization, Whitsons was invited to attend a special EPA-USDA Reducing Food Waste Showcase on October 18, 2018 in Washington, D.C. In attendance was Whitsons President and CEO Paul Whitcomb, who had the privilege of meeting with other champion organizations, agency leadership, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. and Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as part of the rollout of a new agreement, Winning on Reducing Food Waste. The initiative is designed to help spread the word about the importance of food loss and waste reduction through consumer education, redistributing excess food and more efficient production practices throughout the nation. As one of 23 current organizations committed to food loss and waste reduction, Whitsons is proud to play an important role in this forward-thinking enterprise to create a more sustainable world.




This January, students at Lexington High School in Massachusetts started enjoying sustainably harvested wild-caught fish right in their own school cafeteria. The catch-of-the-day program, offered through Red’s Best, allows us to order and serve various types of fish within a couple of days of when it was caught in the Atlantic Ocean.


Red’s Best is based in Boston, MA and distributes sustainable wild-caught fish and seafood for over 1,000 small community-based fishing boats in New England. Each fish delivery comes with an active QR code label that tells the story of that catch, from where and when the fish was caught, to who the fisherman and fishing vessel was.


On January 24th, students at Lexington High School were able to see a display of fresh caught local fish and seafood presented by Red’s Best. Students also enjoyed Baked Pollock topped with Pesto Sauce, Rice Pilaf, and Roasted Vegetables on this day. The Pollock was caught on Tuesday, delivered on Wednesday and served on Thursday – now that’s fresh! In addition to Pollock, future catch-of-the day features could also include Cod, Haddock, and Hake, depending on availability during any given time of year.


“We are very proud of this initiative. We strive to offer the best possible meals to the students we serve, and providing sustainable, local, wild-caught fish to Lexington Schools is one more step we are taking towards this commitment,” says Kevin Silvia, Whitsons Resident District Manager at Lexington Public Schools.




A growing number of millennials in the U.S. are reducing their meat intake and instead are looking to meatless alternatives, according to a new study by global market research firm Mintel. According to Mintel, younger consumers are embracing plant-based foods due to their positive impact on the planet, their health, and on animals. They are looking for products that are non-GMO, do not contain artificial ingredients, and have a high protein content.


In our journey to Enhance Life One Meal at a Time™, Whitsons is focused on expanding our menu offerings by providing additional new plant-based meal options. As part of the Meatless Monday Campaign, we are promoting more vegetarian options. A recent video produced by Johns Hopkins’ Lerner Center for Public Health features Commack High School and Whitsons, and talks about the Meatless Monday Campaign in our schools.


In an effort to generate more excitement about preparing plant-based meal options, Timothy Mugan, Foodservice Director at Killingly School District in Connecticut, and Richard Sandmann, Culinary Innovation Specialist for Schools, organized a day of plant-based culinary training for team members with Forward Food.

Through Forward Food, foodservice directors, major corporations, restaurant chains, chefs, and dietitians are using plant-based foods to grow healthier, more sustainable food systems. The culinary training at Killingly focused on the preparation of plant based dishes such as: Breakfast Sushi, Mediterranean Flatbread with Hummus, Chana Masala, Amazing Lo-Mein, and Sizzling Street Tacos with Cilantro Crema, just to name a few! The delicious entrees were enjoyed by the school staff and a great time was had by all.





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