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State Senator Claire Celsi (D-West Des Moines) is at it again.

Earlier this year we broke the news that Celsi was “warning” buyers about purchasing ice cream made by Wells Blue Bunny, a huge Iowa company in Le Mars.

Now, she is “rethinking” her shopping habits after shopping at Hy-Vee for decades. Hy-Vee, of course, has its corporate office in West Des Moines.

Tina Potthoff, the vice president of communications at Hy-Vee Inc., said it is unfortunate that Celsi doesn’t understand all the good work Hy-Vee does.

Celsi shared a Facebook post on Friday evening that criticizes Hy-Vee for making little effort to join the movement in donating food daily rather than just throwing it away.

Celsi recapped a “very disconcerting” 2019 for Hy-Vee. She noted that Hy-Vee contributed $25,000 to the Iowa Republican Party to offset costs for a Trump event.

Then, she said, Hy-Vee ignored their own customers who asked they change their policy about allowing guns in their stores.

“Apparently, the safety of Hy-Vee’s customers is not a top management priority,” Celsi wrote.

She also said Hy-Vee failed to inform the Iowa Attorney General’s office about a data breach as required by Iowa law. And, she added, Hy-Vee is facing multiple lawsuits in other states for violating both the letter and the spirit of their consumer protection laws.

“Now, they refuse to work with local food rescue organizations who can take perfectly good produce off their hands and deliver it to local food pantries and homeless shelters the same day and save it from the dumpster,” Celsi wrote.

“Hy-Vee has always been a part of my life. I’ve shopped there for decades, and worked there for six years as a teenager. Sadly, these policies are making me rethink my shopping habits. Hy-Vee – please change your ways. Your customers deserve better.”

Here’s the problem, Hy-Vee donates millions and works with many food rescue operations.

“I don’t know what she’s referring to regarding the food rescue incident because that simply is not true,” Potthoff said.

Total corporate donations during fiscal year 2019 were $54.8 million, which includes food banks. In 2018, Hy-Vee donated 25 million pounds of food that was still safe to eat to local food banks and other nonprofits.

Potthoff said donating is done company wide. There are a couple of different ways Hy-Vee donates. The company works with Meals From the Heartland, and donated more than 5 million meals to them in fiscal year 2019. They also raised more than $300,000 for food banks in 2019 through the Feed the Need campaign.

“The information (Celsi) has is wrong,” Potthoff said.

According to Zippia, Hy-Vee is the No. 1 employer in the state of Iowa with 82,000 employees. Casey’s General Store was second on the list with 25,463.

Again, as a sitting state senator, announcing publicly that you are “re-thinking” your shopping habits or “warning” buyers about doing business with Iowa-based companies may not be the most effective way to serve the state.

Especially if the information isn’t true.


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