Kwik Trip Dietitian Discusses Chain's Commitment to Health
LA CROSSE, Wis. — Kwik Trip Inc. has won accolades for its healthy food offerings and its commitment to the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) nonprofit organization. According to Erica Flint, a registered dietitian in food research and development for Kwik Trip, these efforts are only going to continue.
Along with offering healthy options inside its convenience stores, Kwik Trip's focus on health includes a healthy concessions program in partnership with the School District of Onalaska, YMCA and Gundersen Lutheran, Flint told the La Crosse Tribune.
"Throughout Kwik Trips, we have an Eat Smart program that I worked on," said Flint, who calculates the nutrition of items made in Kwik Trip's own facilities, which is then applied to product labels. "It just features some combinations of foods that people can put together. It specifies a calorie count, saturated fat, things like that."
In February, Kwik Trip embarked on its second two-year commitment to the PHA, which involves committing to offering a specific number of whole grains and fresh produce items.
"We're up to six, I believe, with our commitment on those items, so offering six choices of fresh fruits, six offerings of fresh vegetables, six offerings of whole grain, and then low-fat dairy as well," Flint said.
The company has also found ways to add healthier items through product development. For example, it worked with a manufacturer to decrease the sodium content in an oven-roasted chicken breast sandwich that it stocks in the hot food case. Ultimately, the tasting panel preferred the flavor of the new, healthier version.
Pushing healthy options while still satisfying a range of customers has proven to be fairly simple for Kwik Trip.
"It's really about just providing people with options," Flint said. "We do get naysayers who say, you sell cigarettes and you sell junk food, and we do. We do sell those things. But frankly, so do grocery stores. And I think that people, because there's a magnitude of healthy choices in a grocery store, think they're healthier than a convenience store. But we're the same thing with a smaller footprint."
In its local communities, Kwik Trip makes an effort to sell staple commodities such as bananas and eggs at a low price. It also works with the Channel One food bank and has a food donation program in its stores.
"We're always looking for offerings that we can add to the lineup. Watching the trends, that type of thing," Flint said. "Sometimes, it's not even things that we make here, but from our outside vendors. It's really the whole company — the philosophy of this place, and the ownership, that we want to do right for our communities and our guests."