2022 Impact Award winners: Community service
ATLANTIC GROCERY DISTRIBUTORS (AGD)
For two years, the pandemic prevented Atlantic Grocery Distributors (AGD) from hosting its annual Herbert J. Powell Memorial Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for the Alzheimer Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. But AGD still wanted to continue its more than 20-year involvement with the organization, to which it has donated more than $260,000.
Erin Higdon, vice-president, business strategy, AGD says, “during the height of the pandemic, while our world shut down, those living with Alzheimer’s disease in our province, along with their families, still relied on their services.” However, it was challenging for the Society to maintain daily operations as many funding sources were shut down.
AGD asked its vendor partners to donate to the Alzheimer Society instead of paying the fees to attend its annual golf tournament. The company also found other creative ways to raise funds for the Society, including the donation of $1 from the sale of each tub of Moritz Icy Squares chocolates. The response was overwhelming and AGD was able to donate more than $30,000 to the Society in spring 2021. Higdon says AGD is energized about its support of the Society as progress continues to be made with therapies, support and research toward a cure.
Burnbrae Farms has a long history of supplying Canadians with nutritious and affordable eggs. In recent years, the family-owned company has been surpassing its goal to donate at least one million eggs or egg products annually.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Burnbrae donated more than four million eggs and egg products to more than 30 Canadian charities. And last year, the company almost doubled its donations to more than seven million eggs, including 219,000 pounds of eggs and egg equivalents to Second Harvest, a food rescue charity. In addition, Burnbrae’s annual holiday food drive collected nearly 13,000 pounds of food for Canadian food banks.
Many of Burnbrae Farms’ employees volunteer their time to deliver eggs and participate in community events. For example, in 2021, employees at the company’s Winnipeg facility served 400 breakfasts with Burnbrae Farms eggs to the Siloam Mission. And each October, employees help the YMCA of Eastern Ontario, in Brockville, run a fire truck pull to raise money for that organization’s financial assistance program.
“Our desired outcome is for the communities in which we operate to see and feel the impact of our charitable giving, colleague volunteerism and food assistance support,” says Burnbrae Farms president and CEO Margaret Hudson.
Calgary Co-op has been helping the Calgary Food Bank with cash and non-perishable food donations for many years, but the retailer expanded its initiatives in April 2022 by launching the Calgary Co-op Fresh Food Rescue, which donates fresh food and assists with deliveries to the food bank.
As part of the program, vegetables, dairy products, frozen goods, fresh meat and other items nearing their expiration dates—but are still safe to eat—are delivered daily to the Calgary Food Bank.
Within a few months of the launch, Calgary Co-op had donated 260,000 pounds of food with a usability rate of 98%, and helped more than 16,000 community members put fresh, healthy food on their tables. “The focus of Calgary Co-op’s giving strategy is improving food security. Our Fresh Food Rescue Program, in collaboration with the Calgary Food Bank, is just another way our inspired team members work together to support our community,” says Ken Keelor, CEO of Calgary Co-op.
In 2020, Kruger Products launched the Kruger Big Assist to provide financial assistance to keep kids on the ice by subsidizing registration fees for Canadian hockey families.
In its second year, recognizing the importance of inclusivity and diversity in minor hockey, Kruger launched The Second Assist, with an additional $50,000 grant for one of the 15 organizations awarded the Kruger Big Assist.
The Cape Breton Female Hockey Association in Nova Scotia, which won the first Second Assist, is using the grant to create teams in First Nations communities, develop all-female referee crews, train female and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) coaches and implement a financial assistance program.
“All sports, particularly hockey in Canada, play an integral role in the development of children both physically and mentally, and we are proud to assist current and potential hockey families across the country participate in the game we love,” says Susan Irving, CMO, Kruger Products and a hockey mom of two.
Over the past two years, the program has awarded more than $400,000 to Canadian minor hockey associations to cover registration fees and has helped more than 1,000 kids.
Lactalis Canada’s P’tit Québec cheese is a mainstay in rural Quebec—an area of the province that doesn’t get the financial attention big cities receive. As a result, many small projects go unfinished due to a lack of funding and resources. To improve the situation, P’tit Québec launched P’tits projets pas si P’tits (not-so small, small projects), which helps communities conduct small but meaningful projects.
The initiative kicked off last September in the Sainte-Rose-du-Nord (population 439) in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, where the local senior citizens residence and elementary school received more than $25,000 worth of donations, equipment and labour.
Projects included installation of a new bike rack, a protective railing along a scenic walk, repainting the playground’s fence and picnic tables, and replacing the local school’s baseball benches.
“This unique, locally-focused initiative helped support communities with a hands-on approach, including repairing, building and enhancing community infrastructure to bring together communities stronger than ever,” says Vince Vetere, general manager, cheese and table spreads at Lactalis Canada.
Realizing that people may walk through grocery stores unable to purchase enough food for their families, Metro Ontario launched the Out of Reach food bank donation drive during Thanksgiving and the 2021 holiday season.
“Metro Ontario prides itself on being Ontario’s community grocer,” says Carmen Fortino, executive vice-president, Ontario division and national supply chain at Metro. “With that, we felt the weight of knowing that thousands of people in the 100-plus communities we live and work in, go without basic needs like food, shelter and hygiene every day.”
Fortino says consumers feel empowered to donate to food banks when they know it benefits people in their communities who are affected by food insecurity.
Metro Ontario created opportunities for customers to donate $2 at the checkout and matched their donations up to a collective $700,000 (between Metro and Food Basics).
As a result, more than $3 million was raised between October and December 2021, with nearly $2.4 million coming from consumer donations. The funds benefited food banks, shelters, soup kitchens and other charities designated by local stores.
“We wanted to give shoppers the ability to fundraise for these families directly in their communities,” Fortino says.
This year marked the 10th Nature’s Emporium Run for Southlake, which over the years, has raised more than $2.3 million in support of urgent patient care priorities at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ont.
Hundreds of people laced up their sneakers on April 24 in support of Southlake Foundation, raising more than $330,000. The five-kilometre run was held in person this year, after two years of virtual events thanks to COVID-19.
The run has become Southlake Foundation’s largest annual event and funds raised ensure the hospital has the tools and equipment it needs to support leading-edge care.
“Our simple, yet important belief is that when we choose to eat well, we live better and sleep better, move better, feel better,” says Joe D’Addario, CEO of Nature’s Emporium, a health food grocer with four locations in the Greater Toronto Area. “As a leading health food market, we play a very important role in the communities we serve. Our partnerships build on our objective to educate our customers and empower them to take a proactive and preventative approach to their health and wellness,” he says.
The partnership with the Southlake Foundation has served as a springboard for Nature’s Emporium to initiate more community-based initiatives. For example, the retailer recently joined Halton Food for Thought’s Breakfast for Dinner campaign as presenting sponsor to raise funds for student nutrition programs.
Organic community gardens can help increase food security by providing people with access to fruits and vegetables. That’s why Nature’s Path launched its Gardens for Good program more than a decade ago. The program provides grant funds to community gardens across Canada and the United States to improve access to organic food.
In 2021 and 2022, Nature’s Path added an in-store component to spread awareness about Gardens for Good, with an emphasis on supporting local gardens run by or serving BIPOC communities. More than 600 applications were received, and grant fund donations totalled more than $200,000.
“My grandfather was a berry farmer in the 1940s and he taught my dad to always leave the soil better than you found it,” says Jyoti Stephens, vice-president, mission and strategy at Nature’s Path. “This has grown into our mission at Nature’s Path—to always leave the earth better than you found it, in every sense of the phrase.”
To date, Nature’s Path has provided more than $600,000 in grant funding to community gardens across North America. “We believe everyone has the right to quality organic food,” Stephens says, noting the company also provides at least $2 million worth of organic food annually to food banks.
PATTISON FOOD GROUP
When a state of emergency was declared last November after record-breaking rainfall caused floods and landslides in Southern B.C. and Vancouver Island, Pattison Food Group companies jumped into action to ensure residents and stranded travellers received essential goods.
Save-On-Foods (part of Pattison Food Group) launched a Canadian Red Cross disaster relief campaign to raise funds to support devastated communities. Customers could donate in all Save-On-Foods, PriceSmart Food and Urban Fare locations across Western Canada and the Yukon. Save-On-Foods matched each donation for a campaign total of $258,078.
Save-On-Foods co-ordinated emergency supply drops by helicopter and airplane to communities that were cut off, and hired additional truck drivers to double the number of deliveries made from its Edmonton warehouse to still accessible B.C. communities.
In the District of Hope, Save-On-Foods also co-ordinated a convoy of 20 delivery vans packed full of essential goods, and with an RCMP escort made the first delivery into the devastated community.
“The extreme flooding in the fall of 2021 brought devastation and unprecedented challenges to communities across B.C. and I am so proud of the great lengths that our teams across the Pattison Food Group went to in order to get food and medicines into stranded communities, like the District of Hope,” says Darrell Jones, president of Pattison Food Group.
PEAK OF THE MARKET
Through a partnership with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Peak of the Market is tackling the problem of food insecurity. In February, the company launched “Powered by Peak,” which provides fresh produce to community groups throughout Manitoba. Every month, volunteers from the Blue Bombers football team, along with Peak of the Market staff, pack boxes of fresh produce and deliver them to community groups. In just a few months, the company has donated enough produce to feed more than 3,000 families.
The program helps Peak of the Market give back to local communities, while also addressing the company’s sustainability practices. By creating the program, Peak of the Market has seen a significant decrease in the amount of produce ending up in landfill or for animal feed. The program also builds on Peak of the Market’s history of giving back. For the past five years, the organization has donated approximately $14 million worth of fresh produce to Harvest Manitoba and other community service organizations across Canada.
“Synonymous with community, Peak of the Market and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are proud to team up to ensure local community groups are powered by nutritious and delicious fresh produce,” says Pamela Kolochuk, CEO, Peak of the Market. “Not only are we fulfilling important sustainability practices but, together, we ensure bodies and minds are nourished.”
In November 2021, flooding devastated many communities in British Columbia. P&G Canada stepped up to support these communities by donating health and hygiene products and providing free laundry services in Abbotsford and Kamloops through its Tide Loads of Hope program.
For more than 15 years, Tide Loads of Hope has been cleaning clothes for families affected by natural disasters. For its efforts in British Columbia, 2,750 clean-up kits were donated and more than 2,650 pounds of laundry were cleaned during the crisis.
“When we saw the devastating impact caused by the floods in British Columbia last year, we knew we could help by offering cleaning products and free laundry services to those displaced by the flooding, as well as the disaster relief responders,” says Moses Ogbonnaya, vice-president, fabric and home care, P&G Canada. “The basic comfort of clean laundry in times of crisis restores a sense of hope, dignity and optimism to those in great need.”
Tide Loads of Hope has cleaned more than 68,000 loads of laundry across North America and the company is committed to expanding the program tenfold over the next decade, with a focus on communities most affected by climate change.
RABBA FINE FOODS
Rabba Fine Foods has long-standing partnerships with several charitable organizations and continues to find ways to make a difference.
“Rabba has deep roots in the community it serves. In addition to food insecurity, Rabba contributes to health and emergency services and is also a supporter of arts and events that add colour to local communities,” says Rima Rabba, director of marketing. “Rabba believes that a good community starts with good neighbours.”
As part of its Rabba Roots Community Giving program, the grocer teamed up with P&G Canada to donate toiletries, baby supplies and other essentials to The Mississauga Food Bank to help 2,000 refugees arriving from Afghanistan last summer. In April, Rabba and Burnbrae Farms donated 5,400 eggs to The Mississauga Food Bank, just in time for Easter.
This year also marked Rabba’s fourth annual Super Bowl dinner at Good Shepherd Ministries community shelter in Toronto. With support from partners such as P&G Canada, Maple Leaf Foods and Nestlé Canada, Rabba donated food and individual care packages for nearly 1,000 homeless men. Rabba also participates in The Grocery Foundation’s Toonies for Tummies campaign and has raised a total of $40,000 since 2015.
Just a few months into the pandemic, Sobeys made a big commitment to children’s mental health. The retailer launched “A Family of Support: Child and Youth Mental Health Initiative,” in partnership with the Sobey Foundation and Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations. The initiative funds local mental health programs to support 13 children’s hospital foundations across Canada.
In its second year of fundraising, Sobeys developed a robust marketing campaign to drive awareness, raise funds and educate people on the state of child and youth mental health in Canada, demonstrating the specific need for prevention and early-intervention programs.
Launched in September 2021, the campaign spotlighted experts and their families, and told the stories of the partner hospital foundations and how their programs are funded. Sobeys also partnered with social media influencers who showcased candid family moments, educated their followers about the campaign, and encouraged their followers to donate.
According to Sobeys, the campaign made a meaningful impact: $2.29 million was raised for child and youth mental health, along with a $150,000 contribution by Sobeys.
“Evidence shows that investments in prevention and early intervention have the greatest potential to reduce the impact of mental illness on children,” says Sandra Sanderson, senior vice-president of marketing at Sobeys. “That’s why we’re so proud to be driving impactful change for children and youth across the country. A special thanks to Renée Hopfner and her team for their leadership in advancing this important work.”
When devastating floods and mudslides hit British Columbia last November, wiping out roads and damaging farms, SPUD pitched in to help. The Vancouver-based grocery delivery service collected food donations from customers, and then worked out complicated logistics for its vans to make deliveries to communities that were severely impacted.
SPUD then teamed up with United Way and the non-profit Chilliwack Bowls of Hope Society, which provides daily meals for 900 schoolchildren, to ensure the donations got to where they were needed most. The grocer and its partners organized numerous trips to deliver more than 1,000 pounds of food donations to remote Indigenous communities in the Seabird Island First Nation.
For SPUD, the initiative sparked ongoing relationships with United Way and Bowls of Hope. For example, SPUD recently donated 550 kilograms of pulses to Bowls of Hope, providing 10,000 meals for people in need.
\“Cultivating healthy communities is one of our core values and the best way we have found we can support our communities is to serve those who are food insecure,” says Arndrea Scott, vice-president, communications and marketing, SPUD. “Initially, the goal was to help get much-needed groceries to those in need. From there, the relationship between the United Way and Bowls of Hope grew into so much more.”
Canadian Grocer’s Impact Awards will be returning in 2023. Look out for our call for nominations in the New Year.
Winners of the 2022 Impact Awards were first featured in Canadian Grocer’s August issue.