Meet Edina's Hometown Heroes

Edina is made up of people who pride themselves with making the city a great place for living, learning, raising families and doing business.

Dale Riley

June 2016 -- During an average week, as many as 30,000 patrons pass through the doors of Jerry’s Foods. Dale Riley, who manages the popular Vernon Avenue supermarket, sees in this steady foot traffic the perfect opportunity to mobilize the community’s goodwill for the benefit of those less fortunate. 

Under Riley’s direction, Jerry’s is partnering with VEAP on the area nonprofit’s Summer Youth Food Program. VEAP – that stands for “Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People” – solicits donations each summer to assist in-need families in Edina, Bloomington and Richfield. (School children eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch during the school year find themselves without that safety net during the summer, making this season especially critical for VEAP and its partners.)

“We offer our shoppers a number of ways to participate,” Riley explained. Aisles are marked to indicate which contain nutritious and in-demand foods favored by VEAP. If so moved, shoppers can simply place these in their cart, purchase for the Summer Youth Food Program, and pass off to an attendant at check out.

For those looking to save a step, pre-packaged bags are also available at the front of the store. Each contains a mix of cereals, canned goods and nonperishable snacks. “We sell a $10 bag, and also offer a larger, $15 option,” Riley explained.

“In just two weeks, we’ve already sold 42 of one and over 30 of the other,” he added. Brown bag pantry drives are a staple at many supermarkets, but Jerry’s takes the idea a half-step further. Riley credits Jerry’s early success to colorful flyers his team attaches to each bag to illustrate what is inside. “People really like to see what they’re buying and donating.”

From the customer’s perspective, this partnership may be the most visible way in which Jerry’s gives back to the community – but it is far from the only way.

“Every month, Jerry’s donates about 10,000 pounds of edible but no longer salable foods to VEAP’s efforts,” Riley explained. Examples include bruised apples and other scuffed produce unsuitable for display, as well as packaged items within a day of their sell-by date (but well out from their expiration date.)

Fruits and vegetables make up a large share of this volume, but nothing is overlooked. Each day, Jerry’s receives fresh breads from Breadsmith. VEAP does not accept unpackaged products, but rather than throw out what is not sold that day, Riley’s store donates leftovers to Loaves and Fishes.

Prior to assuming his leadership position with Jerry’s in 2014, Riley served most recently as Director of Operations for the Lakewinds Food Co-op. However, his work experience in the supermarket business stretches back much farther, to the mid-1960s. He understands as well as anyone how truly appreciated non-monetary donations are by those who need them.

“It is a true community resource… Everyone [eats], and anyone can be affected in rough economic times like those we experienced not too long ago. We are glad we can do this.”

1 of 64  Heroes

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