By Mike Schwartz, IFMA Sr. VP of Member Value 

Jon Corto went from a professional football career with the Buffalo Bills to founding a healthy food micro market concept called Buffalo Strive with his business-savvy wife, Jen. The couple’s transition from the sports world to the business world was fueled by their shared ambition to create something impactful for their community.
The initial concept for Buffalo Strive actually grew out of Jon's involvement in community and health initiatives during his NFL days. He saw the need for healthier options in schools and was exposed to the concept of high-tech vending machines that could provide healthier alternatives to high-sugar and high-salt snacks. Jen’s business experience, including an MBA from the University at Buffalo School of Management, then drove the creation of their company.

Entering the emerging micro market segment in 2012 to offer a wider range of fresh food options put Buffalo Strive on the local radar and was followed by careful, targeted expansion. The company now has over 65 dedicated team members, and continues to grow in various sectors, including markets, coffee, water, catering, and vending—establishing itself as the largest independent food-vending operator in Buffalo, New York.


Jon and Jen Corto, Owners and Founders of Buffalo Strive and 2024 IFMA Silver Plate Award honorees.

Jon Corto is very aware of how far they’ve come. “It certainly has not always been easy, and we definitely experienced weeks of grind and sleepless nights,” he said. “I remember working out of a small office and trying to use it as our warehouse space as well—with nowhere adequate to store anything. Jen and I would fill every machine ourselves, unload trucks, stock and manage the warehouse while trying to do sales, accounting, and all the other administrative tasks.”

All their hard work and success has not gone unnoticed. When the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) put out a call for candidates for the 2024 Silver Plate Awards, Buffalo Strive’s partners at Nestlé Professional thought of the Cortos immediately. ”

In their nomination, the Nestlé team noted, “Innovative solutions allow Buffalo Strive to serve a variety of locations such as schools, professional buildings, athletic clubs, and medical facilities, all while focusing on options customers love.” The award judges determined that that’s something the industry should celebrate, and Jen and Jon Corto will receive the coveted Silver Plate Award for the Grocery, Convenience, & Specialty Retail category on May 18, 2024.

IFMA has presented Gold & Silver Plate Awards for 70 years. Winners are nominated by IFMA’s members and selected by an independent jury of past award winners, chief editors from the nation’s leading foodservice trade publications, and industry experts. The 2023 jury met in person in January to select the Silver Plate winners. Gold Plate honorees are selected by secret ballot and revealed at the awards celebration in May.

“Winning this award is a huge honor. This is a testament to the hard work that Jen and I and all of the people at Strive have put forth day in and day out,” Jon stated. “This is an award that will be displayed in our showroom for all of our dedicated employees, as a reminder of what their efforts achieve each and every day."

For more information on the IFMA Gold & Silver Plate Awards, click here