May 21, 2020 • By

A baker with a big heart

You never know when a small decision can mean so much to so many people.

Bill Hanisch had an idea – to bake and giveaway free cakes to graduating high school seniors – and that decision has helped spread kindness throughout his community and beyond, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hanisch and his staff at Hanisch Bakery and Coffee Shop in Red Wing, Minnesota, set out to bake about 200 cakes for the seniors at Red Wing High School when their graduation ceremony was cancelled.

But after he shared his idea on his social media accounts, the bakery’s phone started ringing all day.

People were calling from Red Wing and surrounding communities wanting to donate money to make more cakes to give to other graduates.


As of today, Hanisch estimates his bakery will make about 800 cakes for students graduating from 12 schools.

“The whole graduation thing [during the COVID-19 pandemic] really got to me,” says Hanisch. “I have lifelong friends from high school who I walked across the stage with, but whose own kids will not be able to have that same experience.”

Local businesses have stepped up to support Hanisch as well, buying cakes from him to give to students.

“It’s all been amazing,” says Hanisch. “What started as a way to lift the spirits of the community and keep our staff busy for the coming months ahead has morphed into something much bigger.”

His story has been featured on TV and online, including CNN.

The cakes are made with Pillsbury Bakers’ Plus Cake Mix, sold by our Convenience Stores and Foodservice business. We’ve donated some cake mix to Hanisch to help keep the graduation cakes coming out of his ovens.

“What Billy and his team are doing is truly inspirational,” says Greg Wagner, sales account executive on the General Mills Foodservice Ingredient team, who has worked with Hanisch since he bought the bakery in 2007.. “I am not surprised one bit that he would find a way to give back to the community and bring joy to so many during these challenging times. He is truly one-of-a-kind.”

You can learn more about Hanisch, and see more photos, on GeneralMillsCF.com.

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