Alex Baloga is the President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, a trade association representing food retailers operating in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at

It never fails to amaze me the lengths our members go to in giving back to the communities in which they serve, as well as donations to national charities that benefit a variety of causes.

In the case of Ray Charley, owner of PFMA member Charley Family Shop N’ Save, that length was exactly 3,048 miles. Ray is 68 years old and in fantastic shape, as evidenced by his recent 48-day bicycle trek from San Diego, Calif. to St. Augustine, Fla.

You can follow Charley Family Shop n’ Save on Facebook to get all the highlights, but the basics are: Ray and his team of cyclers raised more than $73,000 for Feherty’s Troops First Foundation, a Maryland-based nonprofit that provides help and support for veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Feherty as in David Feherty – the witty Irishman, famed broadcaster, and host of Golf Channel’s Emmy-nominated show Feherty. Ray’s remarkable effort not only raised a significant amount of funds but also created awareness for veterans suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In the legislative arena, lawmakers continue to wade through budget negotiations at the Capitol and there are a number of measures we are focusing on before the summer break.

Senate Bill 321, sponsored by state Sen. Scott Martin, would allow a municipality to prohibit the location of a video gaming establishment within its borders. This would be detrimental to our members who have invested thousands of dollars in good faith to prepare for a lucrative expansion of operations. It also sets a dangerous precedent by giving broad authority to local government to prohibit legal business activity at any time they choose.


We are strongly supporting House Bill 332 which would allow the Superior Court to create a Commerce Court program modeled after the successful Commerce Case Management Program in Philadelphia.The measure is sponsored by state Rep. Seth Grove. It was already approved in the House and is currently sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The proposal would allow Commerce Court to hear cases on corporate acquisitions, mergers, dissolutions, liquidations, or other matters concerning corporations, limited liability companies, trusts, sole proprietorships, and corporate partnerships.

We would like to congratulate our new Board of Directors members and officers. PFMA President and CEO Alex Baloga and Gene Cleary, Director of Independent Sales for C&S Wholesale Grocers, were added to the Board. Jeff Brown will continue his excellent work as Board Chairman; Board Treasurer Tom Cormier was appointed Vice-Chairman; Board Member Lisa Dell’Alba, president and CEO of Square One Markets, was appointed Board Treasurer, and Cleary was appointed Board Secretary.

Two dedicated officers left our Board due to retirement. We’d like to thank Lou Mola of Wawa, Inc., and Frank Puleo of C&S Wholesale Grocers for their service to the Board.

Finally, thank you to our Corporate Leadership Sponsors and all our attendees at our 2019 Annual Conference, which was held May 28-29 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. With topics including digital shopping, alcohol, independent grocers, advocacy and healthcare trends, we believe the educational sessions were extremely valuable to our attendees.

We look forward to seeing you at our 2019 Fall Legislative Conference, which focuses more on political trends, scheduled for Oct. 7-8 at the Radisson Hotel Harrisburg in Camp Hill. Learn more at under Events.