It’s a Community Effort

How Kum & Go gives back to each community the Iowa retailer serves.

November 10, 2021

Convenience Matters Episode 309 Cover Image

By Sara Counihan

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Consumers will embrace a brand that stands for something, cares about the community and shares their values. Midwest convenience retailer Kum & Go is one convenience retail company that goes beyond leading with purpose and models its entire operation around it. This week’s Convenience Matters podcast episode speaks with two Kum & Go employees who ensure that each of their stores develops relationships within their communities and not only give back but pay it forward.

Des Moines-based Kum & Go gives back 10% of its profits to the communities it serves through grant programs, sponsorships and other means, says Emily Bahnsen, philanthropy manager, Kum & Go. Along with programs, each c-store also helps in times of need.

“One of the unique opportunities that we have as a convenience store is that we have product that we can give, so we’re able to show up with things like pallets of water in times of weather-related disasters or even just pizza and donuts for volunteers for different opportunities. It’s a really cool way that we can not only give back philanthropically but show up in person,” said Bahnsen.

Kum & Go has 400 stores in an 11-state footprint, so Bahnsen says she relies on the stores to communicate what organizations are doing meaningful work in the community so that the company can partner with them. If smaller stores want to get involved in their community but don’t know where to start, Bahnsen suggests listening to the customers that walk in the door and the workers that are interacting with them each day to learn about what matters to them in the community.

Kum & Go also takes steps to address food insecurity in communities through a 20% waste policy in its stores and kitchens. Instead of throwing food away, the company has a food rescue donation program, partnering with local food banks, and 326 Kum & Go stores participate in the program.

“We’re helping so many different agencies. The food banks find the agencies, so it could be Boys and Girls Club, DV shelters, homeless shelters, before- and after-school programs, school pantries. [The donated food] is going out to a wide variety of different agencies in our communities,” said Meg Kayko, waste reduction specialist, Kum & Go.

Listen to this week’s Convenience Matters podcast episode No. 309 “Retailing With Purpose” to learn how Kum & Go measures success in this area, how the company tells their story of philanthropy and what they did to help their communities during the pandemic.

Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 300 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at Episodes have been downloaded more than a quarter million times by listeners around the world.

Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Daily and NACS Magazine. Contact her at