The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association is pleased to welcome a new member to its Board of Directors. PFMA welcomes David Simonetti, Senior Director of Store Operations and Business Operations for Wawa, Inc.
“What a great addition to our board; it is always a pleasure to welcome members of the food and beverage industries to our PFMA Board of Directors,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “We thank David and Wawa for their dedication to the association and look forward to benefitting from David’s perspectives and expertise.”
David Simonetti is a Senior Director of Store Operations for Wawa, Inc. In his role, he is responsible for the Pennsylvania and NJ Markets and Store Operations Business Support Services. He joined Wawa in 2014 after spending the previous 9 years with Five Guys Enterprise as the Regional Director for Northeast Operations in the US and Canada. During his time at Five Guys, he played an integral role in building the brand and growing the company from 40 to nearly 1,200 locations. David has a diverse background that also includes time in the automotive industry with Volvo Cars of North America.
David received his MBA from American University and his BA from The George Washington University. He is a father of four children, including his daughter Lena who was born with Down syndrome. His interest in supporting those with special needs led him to become a member of the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Pennsylvania. He is also a Co-Founder and Donor Advisor for PHL Cares, a high-impact business-led response to Philadelphia’s chronic street homelessness problem mobilizing resources and leadership for real solutions – housing, jobs, and services - to end homelessness.
PFMA is led by a 37-member Board of Directors that includes retail and associate members.
This volunteer group shapes the association's agenda. Members are elected to unlimited three-year terms.
Today, 1.8 million Pennsylvanians use SNAP. That’s roughly 14 percent of the state’s population. Of this group, 59 percent of recipients are families with children, while 46 percent are households with older adults or disabled individuals. In addition, 37 percent of recipients are classified as part of the working poor.
Clearly, SNAP is extremely important to recipients, but it is also important to communities. Every dollar in SNAP spending generates $1.50 in overall economic activity, which benefits food retailers, food processors and suppliers, farmers, and the business community.
Weis Markets has been engaged in SNAP advocacy for a long time, so we sat down with Dennis Curtin to find out a little more about some of the longstanding challenges for the industry, evergreen priorities when it comes to reform, and top-of-mind issues for this year specifically.
“Our engagement with SNAP is about explaining how the program impacts our customers and communities,” said Dennis Curtin of Weis Markets. “We’ve all heard the myths about individuals exploiting SNAP and engaging in fraudulent activities. In our business, we see SNAP recipients buying groceries to feed their families. Our top SNAP item is a family-size package of 80 percent ground beef. Essentials like eggs, bananas and a gallon of whole milk are in the top five.”
Overall, Weis Markets said that they have seen significant improvements to SNAP in recent years. For example, the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan formula has been updated to reflect how people buy and prepare food today compared to 40 years ago, and children and their families who are eligible for free meals at school will receive $120 in SNAP funding over the summer recess. It is their hope to see sustained improvements in these key areas.
On the other hand, Curtin discussed the end of the COVID emergency allotment and how that has uniquely created challenges for many recipients. Single-person households, who used to receive $95 per person per month, now receive $23. Many of these individuals are seniors, so Weis Markets hopes the Commonwealth will address this issue and increase the allotment for this group.
Weis Markets views SNAP advocacy as an ongoing process. While it’s true that SNAP is authorized every five years as part of the Farm Bill, it’s reviewed and scrutinized regularly. In addition, the USDA oversees administrative details of the program on an ongoing basis. Staying informed of these changes helps Weis Markets meet the needs of its SNAP customers.
Once you have an understanding of how SNAP affects your stores and communities, explain its impact to your elected representatives whenever you have the chance. Over the years, Weis Markets has developed a relationship with Congressman Glenn Thompson, who is Chairman of the Ag Committee and a key player in the Farm Bill. His district is home to many of their Weis Markets stores; he has been fair, helpful, and receptive to our advocacy about SNAP.
As a food merchant, you need to know how SNAP impacts your stores and communities. You should understand that this program impacts more than just its beneficiaries—it benefits the whole community. To get more involved with advocacy efforts email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. What are the important issues facing your district?
Currently the 47th Senatorial District has been experiencing issues with road and bridge infrastructure, retaining a quality workforce, and overall labor shortage.
3. Where do you shop locally for food?I tend to frequent two local farms that have fresh fruits and vegetables from early spring until Thanksgiving.
4. What is your favorite vacation destination?I personally don’t have one special place, being that we have such a diverse region. My wife and I enjoy going to the beach, camping, and hiking in the mountains and in our national forests.
5. What are the biggest challenges for grocers in your district?Several of our area grocers are faced with supply chain issues which continue to cause a downturn in certain product availability. They are also faced with workforce challenges.
6. What are your biggest challenges and successes as a legislator?As a legislator one of the biggest challenges that we can be faced with is building consensus on important legislative issues. Though what I find is one of the biggest successes in my position is being able to translate the issues my constituents are bringing to my attention into meaningful legislation. Two great examples of this are my Pie Bill (Senate Bill 828) which was signed into law in 2010 and my Telemedicine Bill (Senate Bill 739) which I introduced during the current legislative session.
7. What is your favorite food or meal to cook?I really enjoy cooking steak on the grill and eating the fresh fruits and vegetables that are available all summer long. I also enjoy ice cream at any time.
8. What do you like to do for fun? In my free time, I take pleasure in tending to my farm. My farm has been in my family for generations and is something that I am passionate about.
9. What is your greatest success as a legislator over the past few years? I am proud to say that several of the initiatives I have championed, which included my Pie Bill (Senate Bill 828 of 2010), the Pennsylvania Farm Bill (House Bill 1514 of 2019), my Horse Racing Industry Standards Bill (Senate Bill 1237of 2022), and my Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Bill (Senate Bill 478 of 2019), have been signed into law. Additionally, my Dog Law Modernization Bill (Senate Bill 746 of 2023) passed the Senate with bipartisan support and now awaits House consideration.
Erica Koup Logsdon, Director of Communications and Media Relations