A man in a hat and coat standing next to a stack of bins

Good To Go: Food Rescue Makes For A Great Partnership Between Kwik Trip and Bountiful Basket

On a Friday morning in Chaska, the delivery door of the Bountiful Basket food shelf swings open as Food Rescue driver Rich pushes a cart stacked high with green bins adorned with the Kwik Trip logo. Rich and other Bountiful Basket volunteers work quickly to get fresh produce, breads and ready-made sandwiches into coolers and freezers, so they are ready for shoppers.

Deb, a volunteer and shopper at Bountiful Basket, helps clients shop and is always sure to point out when there is a fresh Kwik Trip delivery. “I’ll point out certain things to our shoppers. I especially like the BBQ chicken wings, so when we get those in, I’ll point them out to people. People bring their kids, and they’re super excited.”

A woman in a floral pattern shirt poses in front of oranges

Volunteers like Deb help shoppers at Bountiful Basket pick out their groceries.

“People love the sandwiches,” says Patti Sinykin, Executive Director of the Bountiful Basket food shelf. “I remember talking to somebody who said, ‘These are perfect because I get up super early to go to work. I can quickly put it in the microwave, and I’ve got my meal and I can get to work on time.’”

Shoppers at Bountiful Basket are excited to see Kwik Trip brands that they are accustomed to when they arrive at the food shelf. Food Rescue Program Manager at Second Harvest Heartland Jean Jagodzinski regards this as extremely important. “It takes a lot for people to go to a food shelf and admit ‘I need some assistance. I need some help.’ When they walk in, and it feels like a Kwik Trip (like a grocery store) it makes them feel a lot better. Seeing a brand that people recognize like Kwik Trip Kitchen Cravings or Nature’s Touch helps fight the stigma of going to a food shelf. It absolutely adds dignity.”

Part of the reason this food rescue process works so well is attributed to Kwik Trip’s dedication to food safety. People are excited that Kwik Trip recently instituted a safe process to take food off the hot bar, quickly freeze it, and get it into the food rescue program. Ingredient labels are on the wrappers, and Kwik Trip developed reheating instructions.

Two women and a man pose for a photo in front of a hot bar at a Kwik Trip

Second Harvest Heartland's Food Rescue Program Manager Jean Jagodzinski poses at the Chanhassen Kwik Trip with Store Leader Nikki and Kwik Trip's Retail Food Protection Manager, Evan.

According to Evan Powell, Kwik Trip’s Retail Food Protection Manager, Kwik Trip’s Food Rescue program started in 2011. “We were just kind of jumping on the bandwagon. Last year we donated over 4.2 million pounds across all our Feeding America relationships, and that is a new record for us. We add about 30 to 40 new stores each year.”

Bountiful Basket receives Kwik Trip products from two local stores: Chaska, and Chanhassen. The Chanhassen store is the highest volume participating store in terms of food donated. 

“Our morning bookkeeper is really good about it all,” explains Nikki, the Kwik Trip Chanhassen Store Leader. “She owned her own restaurant, so she saves literally everything possible. It’s made a huge impact for us to be able to donate.

“We've really found a system that works for us. We know that Bountiful Basket is coming on Tuesdays and Fridays, but they would come at any point if we called. It’s been the same couple of gentlemen that come every week, so we’ve gotten to build a close working relationship with them. The guys are always telling a new joke, so it’s been fun.”

A crate full of rescued food from Kwik Trip

Bountiful Basket picks up a multitude of items from Kwik Trip, including ready-made sandwiches, fresh produce, and bakery items.

Bountiful Basket Program Operations Manager Nicole Bingenheimer says, “Our clients are excited to find Kwik Trip food here. I think our relationship with Kwik Trip is fantastic. The partnership is nice because we know that we can always ask them if we need some additional help. We’ll purchase bananas, extra eggs or things that we find we need. They’re our first call almost all the time. Our guys have great relationships with the Kwik Trip coworkers.”

According to Second Harvest’s Jean Jagodzinski, it's common for an agency and a retailer to extend that partnership to some type of purchasing program.

Food Rescue is an important part of the food relief system, as it can supplement the items that food shelves normally receive – especially during winter when the local growing season is slowed down. It is also an integral part of food shelves’ mobile delivery programs that send food to seniors or other neighbors that aren’t always able to cook for themselves. 

“We’ve got a mobile delivery program which goes to people’s households and some senior housing facilities,” explains Patti. “We’re setting up a little pantry in an apartment building being built that is specifically for homeless youth. We also deliver our food to two of the motels in the area. The Kwik Trip food is a perfect addition to everything we send out.”

“Kwik Trip’s mission statement is to make a difference in someone’s life,” says Evan, “and I always think that food rescue is one of the best ways we do it.”