Connexus donates cooling equipment to Pantry

Princeton Pantry is the recent recipient of three new coolers (two of which included a prerecorded voice) and one freezer, the total set valued at $14,213 and donated by Connexus Energy.
An old saying is that talk is cheap, and Princeton Pantry board president Bob Hasinfelt certainly did not put a value on the talking feature two coolers had. Hasinfelt, longtime pastor at Princeton Baptist Church, was in fact annoyed enough by the two talking coolers that he silenced freezer
According to Hasinfelt, when one of the doors was opened, a voice would say, “Thank you for shopping,” and when the door was closed, it said, “Thank you for shopping. Come again.”
Hasinfelt searched for the sound’s source and found a speaker on each cooler hidden behind a hinged panel at the top. Upon finding the speakers, Hasinfelt pulled their wires loose.
Hasinfelt also called St. Cloud Refrigeration, the equipment provider, and asked if anyone there knew anything about the recording.
“They had no idea the machines could do that,” Hasinfelt said.
The coolers are located in the space that Princeton Pantry rents at 507 First St. The coolers store soon-to-expire grocery items, which will be given away, that the food shelf gets from the local Coborn’s and Walmart stores and from a supermarket in Zimmerman.
The glass doors allow visitors to view products without opening the coolers. Before Princeton Pantry opened the First Street location, it had a solid-door cooler in its main location, which Princeton Pantry owns at 104 Sixth Ave. S. The solid-door cooler was constantly being opened and closed, more than it should have been, Hasinfelt said.
Princeton Pantry also has a Connexus-donated stainless steel, solid-door cooler and a big freezer with solid doors at the Sixth Avenue location. Those coolers and the freezer have digital technology with turbo air, in which interior fans cool the contents faster, Hasinfelt said.
Donation inspiration
You could say the donation of the freezer and coolers by Connexus was generated by a mistake. A worker at Princeton Pantry had mistakenly given credit to Connexus for a $750 donation some months ago when it was actually Xcel Energy that had given the donation.
When Connexus found that out, it decided to match Xcel’s donation. Samanatha Neral, communications and community relations director at Connexus, visited Princeton Pantry to take a look at its facilities and cooling equipment.
Princeton Pantry was already helped some by local resident Jon Steinbrecher, who donated a glass-door cooler to Princeton Pantry last winter.
What caught Neral’s eye during her visit was the old Zenith Custom 15 freezer in the pantry, a piece from a different era. Hasinfelt said that when Neral saw that, she informed the Pantry staff that Connexus could donate some new refrigeration. Neral had St. Cloud Refrigeration send advertising to Princeton Pantry, showing the different kind of coolers and freezers that the company had available.
Hasinfelt noted that once the pantry personnel were aware that Walmart would soon open a store, the pantry board decided it needed to get three coolers and one freezer.
Besides the soon-to-expire milk the food shelf gets from grocery stores, Princeton Pantry also receives milk from the Second Harvest food bank, so more cooler space was needed, Hasinfelt said.
Hasinfelt called the timing of the cooling equipment donation by Connexus “just perfect.”
He notes that the number of clients “just keeps rising.” The average number of families coming to the First Street location was 42 per day in June this year, Hasinfelt said. The main items set out for free there are produce, dairy products and baked goods.
Both the First Street and Sixth Avenue locations are open for business 1-3 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and 9-11 a.m. Fridays.