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MSP rises to the occasion to help those in need

If you're looking for a silver lining in the coronavirus pandemic, look no further than the logistics and concession partners at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). 

When traffic began to plummet at MSP in mid-March and its restaurant and retail shops began closing as a result, the Bradford Airport Logistics MSP team realized that a lot of food would go to waste if they didn't act quickly.

Led by HMSHost, which operates several restaurants at the airport, MSP concessionaires have been donating food to Loaves and Fishes – a local non-profit that serves free meals across seven Minnesota counties ­– since 2017. Other concessionaires participating in the food rescue program include the Airport Retail Group, Caribou Coffee, Delaware North and SSP America.

Double donations
During normal times, a Loaves and Fishes truck pulls up to a loading dock at MSP a couple of times per week and drives away with 450 to 600 pounds of ready-to-eat food items that are approaching their expiration date. The organization then repurposes the donated food for meal programs to benefit people in need or distributes it as-is through its street outreach program.

Christof Stolarczyk, facilities manager for Bradford Airport Logistics MSP, was particularly effective in helping orchestrate the donations quickly, said Naquandra "Nikki" Peterson, supervisor of Facilities Management at Terminal 1. Stolarczyk estimates MSP concessionaires donated about 9,000 pounds of food over the past 2½ months – roughly double what is donated during more normal times.

A history of hunger

Stolarczyk speaks four languages – English, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian. After his parents emigrated to the U.S. from Poland in the 1940s during World War II, his family helped several uncles and cousins from Poland, Russia and Ukraine settle in the U.S.

As he learned their languages, Stolarczyk also learned about how millions of people died during the Great Famine of the early 1930s in the former Soviet Union and Ukraine. And he discovered that many Poles died of starvation during WWII in German-occupied Poland. 

"Growing up, my family's mentality was to be very frugal – and to be very appreciative for everything we had," said Stolarczyk. "I'm just so proud to work with people throughout the airport who recognize that there are others who need help – who share the same sentiments I do to help those who need it."