The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) recently awarded its 2023 Thomas R. and Laura Ridge Scholarship to 27 deserving students
This year, scholarship winners earned a total of $67,500 toward their goals in higher education. Recipients are chosen by a panel of judges who review each applicant’s academic record, school, and community involvement, recommendations, and a submitted essay.
“Kudos to this year’s Ridge Scholars, who represent some of our brightest young adults,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “They have amassed an impressive list of accomplishments, service, and academic and professional leadership. We are happy to recognize their efforts and help them reach their academic goals.”
Individual scholarship amounts awarded every student with a $2,500 scholarship for the 2023-24 academic year. In total, $67,500 in scholarships were awarded. Scholarship funds come from PFMA’s Education Trust and sponsoring PFMA member companies The GIANT Company, Karns Foods, Rutter’s, Sheetz, and Wawa.
“Working in retail food service has been a fun and rewarding experience. It has taught me to be fast, detail-oriented, and friendly while performing a variety of job duties in a fast-paced environment. To think that a job I love that has helped fund my education has also allowed me the opportunity to become a Ridge Scholar is an amazing privilege for which I am grateful,” said Helayna Baer of Cheswick, PA. “The Ridge Scholarship will help me achieve my goal of expanding my learning experiences to study abroad in France.”
This year’s recipients are listed below with their goals in higher education. PFMA thanks its members for sponsoring the Ridge Scholars, and each sponsoring business is listed in parentheses.
Helayna Baer of Cheswick, PA, plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh to major in Chemical Engineering and a minor in French. (Sheetz)
Alexis Benner of Reedsville, PA, plans to attend Juniata College to major in Biology. (Rutter’s)
Madison Braswell of Howell, NJ, plans to attend Montclair State University to major in Earth and Environmental Science. (Wawa)
Nancy Colwell of Hayes, VA, plans to attend James Madison University to major in Marketing and minor in Business Spanish. (Wawa)
Sydney Eckhardt Phoenixville, PA, plans to major in Economics and History at Boston College. (Wawa)
Maizie Ecker of Seven Valleys, PA, plans to attend West Chester University to major in Nutrition and a minor in Biology. (Rutter’s)
Jillian Evans of Coatesville, PA, plans to attend University of Delaware Honors College to major in Neuroscience and Psychology with a minor in Human Development and Family Science. (GIANT/Martin’s)
Lindsay Fittipaldi of Egg Harbor, NJ, plans to attend Quinnipiac University to major in Criminal Justice. (Wawa)
Sarah Graham of Altoona, PA, plans to attend Dickinson College to major in International Studies with a minor in Political Science and Spanish. (PFMA/David & Kathryn McCorkle)
Sydney Hertzog of Kutztown, PA, plans to attend Gwynedd Mercy University to major in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy with a minor in Psychology. (PFMA)
Hannah Hess of Berwick, PA, plans to attend King’s College to major in Early Childhood Education PK- 4 and Special Education PK- 12 and pursuing a Masters in Reading. (GIANT/Martin’s)
Lucas Hydock of Minersville, PA, plans to attend The Pennsylvania State University to major in Film and Cinematography Production. (PFMA)
McKenna Kessler of Fleetwood, PA, plans to attend East Stroudsburg University to major in Digital Media Technologies (DMET). (GIANT/Martin’s)
Edgar Maysonet of Orlando, FL, plans to attend the University of Central Florida to major in Mechanical Engineering. (PFMA)
Peter Murnane of West Chest, PA, plans to attend The Pennsylvania State University to major in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Technology Based Entrepreneurship and Innovation. (GIANT/Martin’s)
Travis Noecker of Hamburg, PA, plans to attend Arcadia University to major in Forensic Science. (Rutter’s)
Mackenzie Owens of Lansdale, PA, plans to attend University College Dublin to major in Applied Economics. (GIANT/Martin’s)
Riya Patel of Ellicott City, MD, plans to attend University of Maryland to major in Public Health Science and minor in Humanities, Health and Medicine. (PFMA)
Kara Peck of Waynesboro, PA, plans to attend Shippensburg University to major in Early Childhood Education. (PFMA)
Jamie Pottman of York, PA, plans to attend University of Delaware to major in Applied Molecular Biology and Biotechnology. (Rutter’s)
Mark Pottman of York, PA, plans to attend Kutztown University to major in Cinema, Media, and Television. (Rutter’s)
Kaitlyn Sheriff of Landisburg, PA, plans to attend Lycoming College to major in Astrophysics and a minor in Computational Science. (Karns)
Caleb Shoemaker of Duncannon, PA, plans to attend Penn State Harrisburg to major in Mechanical Engineering. (Rutter’s)
Madalyn Strait of Columbia, PA, plans to attend Misericordia University to major in Diagnostic Medical Sonography. (PFMA)
LaRin Walls of Hollidaysburg, PA, plans to attend Point Park University to major in Theatre Production. (Sheetz)
Ryan Wilson of Mechanicsburg, PA, plans to attend Bloomsburg University to major in Finance. (PFMA)
Sandy Zheng of Spring Grove, PA, plans to attend West Chester University to major in Biochemistry with a minor in Biology. (Rutter’s)
Established in 1996, the Ridge Scholarship honors the parents of former Gov. Tom Ridge. Thomas R. Ridge was a member of the food industry for 25 years, and his wife, Laura, was a great advocate of education for their three children: Tom, David and Vikki. To date, 654 students have earned Ridge Scholarships, and nearly $1.2 million has been awarded.
The new associate members represent a variety of industries, from janitorial services, training, and renewable energy to creamery, cheese, and retail technology.
Dri Mark is the number one manufacturer of Counterfeit Detectors and Custom Markers in the US. They are the original patent holder for counterfeit pens.
Janitors Supply Co Inc. has provided cleaning solutions and more since 1954! They are the premier source of janitorial, industrial, and institutional cleaning products in a five-state area.
Within the US, JT International U.S.A., Inc. has grown into a total tobacco company with three businesses: JTI USA, marketing and selling key cigarette brands Wave, Wings, Export ‘A’ and the global brand LD; PrimeTime International Distributing Inc. (PTID), an industry leader in filtered cigars and pipe tobacco; and Logic Technology Development (Logic), a category leader in vaper products.
Orontes LLC mission is to deliver healthy dairy products of the highest quality to everyone by offering various delicious options using locally sourced ingredients. Orontes is proud that it products support local farmers and local businesses. Their Motto: Better Milk, Better Yogurt, Better Health.
Revittle crafts artisan cheese from Pennsylvanian ingredients made the traditional European way. Their mission is to reconnect all Americans with the taste, joy, and health benefits of all-natural cheese made the way it should be.
Reykjavik Creamery / TSC Emerald Valley LLC is a 30,000 sq ft. facility in Pennsylvania, located on a 400-acre organic dairy farm in the scenic Cumberland Valley, just north of Newville and about 25 minutes from Carlisle. Reykjavik is a high-tech dairy manufacturing facility specializing in contract manufacturing premium cultured artisan dairy products. Their specialty is strained yogurt, called Skyr, otherwise known as Icelandic Style Yogurt.
The WEBBER/SMITH Group are independent full-service Engineering and Building Design firm providing engineering and building design solutions to Food & Beverage and other industries.
With Upside LLC., people earn cash back, and businesses earn a proven profit, so communities grow stronger. And every transaction through Upside benefits the world at large, offsetting carbon and food waste so that our communities thrive for years to come.
Vanguard Renewables was founded with the goal of producing renewable energy from organic waste to power homes, businesses, and communities. Sustain farms for future generations by reducing on-farm methane emissions and providing a diversified income stream and beneficial byproducts that support regenerative agriculture. And reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food waste by diverting tons of food waste from landfills and incineration in compliance with state organics to landfills bans and food and beverage companies’ ESG and decarbonization goals.
Wise Snacks / Wise Foods Inc. is a company based in Berwick, Pennsylvania, that makes snacks and sells them through retail food outlets in 15 eastern seaboard states, as well as Vermont, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. Best known for its several varieties of potato chips; Wise also offers Cheez Doodles, bagged popcorn, tortilla chips, pork rinds, onion rings, Dipsy Doodle chips, nachos, Quinlanbrand pretzels, and French onion dips.
Ready Training Online (ROT) offers training for administrators and employees. At Ready Training Online, their mission is to inspire and facilitate employee success through the delivery of engaging, customizable, and easy-to-manage online learning. They place a high value on integrity, teamwork, and excellence while remaining client-focused in all we do. At the end of the day, their goal is to make your training impactful and easy.
The Kraft/Heinz Company is the third-largest food and beverage company in North America and the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world, with eight $1 billion+ brands. A globally trusted producer of delicious foods, The Kraft Heinz Company provides high quality, great taste, and nutrition for all eating occasions, whether at home, in restaurants, or on the go.
Food sustainability is a crucial issue facing the world today. With the global population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, it is important to ensure that we have a sustainable food system that can provide healthy food to everyone while protecting the environment, reducing the volume of surplus food generation, recycling and limiting the waste headed to landfills.
Coming out of COVID, food retailers like Price Chopper are still working to regain their momentum in sustainability efforts. During that period, in many cases, food banks could not transport the food that would normally be coming to them from food retailers through fresh recovery programs; this was mainly due to staffing, logistical restraints, and pandemic protocol. The program, an effort from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that Price Chopper joined in 2016, promotes reducing food waste generation, increasing the donation of unsaleable but still edible food, and composting excess food in order to operate more efficiently, feed hungry people and protect the environment.
The fallout from COVID threw some of the momentum Price Chopper had prior to COVID when they were able to get the food to the people that needed it within the cities and the footprint where they do business. With COVID in the rear view mirror, they are working on efforts to regain their footing and momentum in their fresh recovery program and get everyone back up to 100% execution.
Just as important as addressing food insecurity through its fresh recovery program, Price Chopper is focused on helping the environment through a new recycling program called AgriCycle. AgriCycle is helping Price Chopper save organic material from becoming landfilled. Over 50% of all materials being sent to landfills are compostable. These organic materials have the power to restore our soils and benefit our atmosphere when composted. When landfilled, these same materials directly contribute to greenhouse gases that pollute our air and contribute to climate change. AgriCycle is the premier food-waste-collection service in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. They recycle food waste and scraps via anaerobic digestion and composting—turning your “waste” into renewable energy and healthy soil. AgriCycle’s priority is to support its partners in reducing and donating food before collection. Participating in this AgriCycle has positively impacted the Price Choppers recycling program, sustainability program, and the back side of their business with what they send to landfills. It is great for the environment and Price Choppers’ bottom line because there are fewer trip costs and disposable costs.
“Everyone wins with Price Chopper’s sustainability efforts. People that need the food win, the environment wins, Price Chopper wins, and the customers in all the areas we do business win,” said Patrick Iannotti, Director of Retail Operations for stores in the Northeastern United States of Price Chopper and chair of PFMA’s Sustainability Committee.
Most importantly, Price Chopper sets out to make the right amount of products in the first place, which helps them limit the waste they will have. If they are producing the right amount of products, then they do not have as much shrink or as much markdown product leftover. They rely on the numbers and statistics from a production planning program called Periscope. Periscope is the latest in inventory management technology and came out of one of the many COVID-era lessons learned the hard way by commissaries and other offsite providers and their retail partners when they learned it was more important than ever to know your inventory and to limit budget-busting waste. Periscope, a fresh item management system that maintains and manages a perpetual inventory for all sellable and backroom products, also has a Financial Inventory module to capture fresh inventories for periodic financial reporting.
The Periscope production planning system helps Price Chopper determine how much each of their fresh products and their fresh departments need to produce each day to meet their customer needs. It’s all based on math, history, algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, which gives Price Chopper the information on what they need to produce on a daily basis. Collectively this helps Price Chopper affect how many leftover products they have, limiting waste and getting them closer to selling all of their products to the customer, eliminating leftovers. But they know that there will always be some leftovers, and when there is, Price Chopper wants to be prepared with a plan to distribute and recycle these goods, limiting the quantity sent to landfill.
Price Chopper follows the inverted triangle. They start with using technology to produce what their customer’s needs dictate, followed by donating to food banks through fresh recovery, getting good viable food to people who need it. After that, they try to help farmers by feeding livestock. Whatever product is left after completing those steps, Price Chopper works with AgriCycle before sending the remaining products to landfills.
Right now, Price Chopper is fine-tuning its processes. These efforts take a lot of collaboration and communication, which is the biggest challenge when it comes to sustainability efforts facing food retailers. Across its footprint, Price Chopper is working with 11 different food banks. That impact is contributing to sustainability and Feeding America. Price Chopper’s efforts in sustainability have not gone unnoticed. They have received several awards over the years, including EPA awards, produce sustainability awards, whole health wellness awards, and awards for cutting food waste with tech platforms.
In the wake of the COVID pandemic, unemployment and food insecurity soared. According to Feeding America, in 2021, 53 million people turned to food banks and community programs for help putting food on the table. Patrick Iannotti, said, “To me, impacting people that are food insecure within our footprint is one of the most rewarding thing that we do. To help people get food that need food, I do not know if there is anything more gratifying than that.”
To assist with PFMA’s efforts, or to get involved in the association’s Sustainability Committee, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are your top three legislative priorities in 2023? As an advocate for criminal justice reform, I prime co – sponsored a bill with Rep. Harris which would expand Pennsylvania’s first in the nation clean slate legislation to include low level, non-violent drug felonies. The bill, HB 689, would give more Pennsylvanians the ability to get back into the work force.
Constituents in my district have been helped by the state’s property tax rent rebate program. I introduced a bill to help more seniors get rent rebate relief. My house bill HB 1048 would add COLA moratoriums into the program.
As the former chair of the Children and Youth Committee in the State House, I had worked on a bill to update the definition in the child protective services law. This year I am again working on the bill, as it is a needed process reform, to help our state’s children and youth agencies.
What are the important issues facing your district? As a legislator that represents part of three public school districts and two private schools the needs of each district as it relates to funding in the budget. Another important issue is the rise in the cost of living in Central PA due to inflation. And finally, transportation infrastructure is a priority with our growing population in Cumberland County to keep roads and bridges safe.
Where do you shop locally for food? I like to shop at local grocery stores whether that be Giant or Weis. I also give special preference to PA Preferred food for our farmers here in Central PA.
What is your favorite vacation destination? I enjoy going with my family to Bethany Beach Delaware in the summer.
What are the biggest challenges for grocers in your district? Supply shortages in grocery stores like the lack of eggs due to the avian flu. Some grocery stores are facing staffing issues due to not being able to find people willing to apply for the good paying jobs that are open.
What are your biggest challenges and successes as a legislator? A challenge I face as a legislator in Harrisburg is the lack of civility in political discourse and debate. Democracy is based on dialogue and debate. This can be done respectfully, even when we disagree to work a comprise that moves an issue forward. I’ve had success as a legislator through my ability to work in a bipartisan manner on issues. I am proud to have had seventeen bills signed into law. The one that has impacted the most people was the first in the nation Clean Slate bill, giving people with criminal records a second chance after they have earned it.
"My biggest success has been being the First in the Nation Clean Slate reform that I and Rep. Harris introduced and helped pass in 2018 helping more than 1.2 million Pennsylvanians get a second chance."
What is your favorite food or meal to cook? One I pick up or take out from a local restaurant.
What do you like to do for fun? Go to the beach, to read a book or to watch baseball, especially my Washington Nationals play.
Erica Koup Logsdon, Director of Communications and Media Relations