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2023 Impact Award winners: Community service

Here are the 14 businesses recognized for contributing to the communities they serve

For its third year, the Canadian Grocer  Impact Awards celebrates Canadian grocery retail and CPG businesses that are going above and beyond to make the world a better place

We recognized 40 winners making a positive impact in the areas of sustainabilitysupporting employees; diversity, equity & inclusion; and community service. 

Fourteen companies won in the category of community service. Here’s why:

Barilla Canada

For the past eight years, Barilla Canada has partnered with Toronto’s Covenant House – a non-profit serving youth who are homeless, trafficked or at risk – to support its Cooking for Life program. The interactive, hands-on training program teaches essential cooking skills necessary for employment in the hospitality industry and promotes the value of a nutritious Mediterranean diet.

More than 400 young people have graduated from the program, with 83% earning their food handler’s certificate, 50% retaining employment with their placement employer, and 50% securing a position with another employer or going back to school.

This year’s partnership kicked off with a two-day Cooking for Life workshop hosted by the company’s executive chef, Tim Minefee. Barilla has also strengthened its collaboration with Covenant House by employing skilled graduates from the program. 

While learning to cook can open the door to new employment opportunities for these youths, the program extends far beyond new culinary skills. “Providing a meal may sustain them for a day, but teaching them to cook a quality pasta in accordance with the Mediterranean diet empowers them to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout their lives,” says Gino Rulli, vice-president and general manager of Barilla Canada. “There has never been a more opportune moment to educate students about the significance of crafting nourishing meals using accessible and affordable ingredients.”

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burnbrae farms
Giving back or “doing its bit” is at the core of egg producer Burnbrae Farms’ culture

Burnbrae Farms

As Canada’s largest egg producer, Burnbrae Farms has made “doing its bit” – giving back to the communities in which it operates – a foundation of its culture. 

Each Burnbrae facility is allocated a budget for use towards at least two charitable initiatives or local donations, and many Burnbrae employees volunteer their time delivering eggs and participating in community events. All Burnbrae facilities conduct local environmental protection initiatives such as roadside cleanups and tree planting.

“Everyone should ‘do their bit’ – that’s what my mother, Mary Hudson, was known for saying,” says Burnbrae Farms president and CEO Margaret Hudson. “It’s very important to us as a family and a business that the communities in which we operate and live, see and feel the impact of our charitable giving and our colleague volunteerism.”

Soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, Burnbrae donated $5,000 to the Canadian Red Cross to assist with relief efforts in the war-torn country. The Burnbrae Farms Foundation also donated $1,000 to Veterinarians Without Borders in Ukraine to help more than 100,000 pets in urgent need of food, water, medicine and veterinary care. And more than 800,000 eggs were donated to Canadian communities in 2023. Burnbrae aims to donate one million eggs or egg equivalents every year. 

Freson Bros.

When Fox Creek, Alta. was devastated by wildfires in May, leading to a mandatory evacuation of the town, Freson Bros. Fox Creek store manager Kyle Amos sprang into action

After his family evacuated, Amos returned to Fox Creek to support the firefighters who were trying to save the town, cooking meals for them and keeping the store open so they could pick up any supplies they needed. As the only grocery store in town, “I came to the conclusion that it was my responsibility to take care of the community,” Amos says. “If I didn’t do what I did, then the process might have been a lot more difficult than it had to be for our emergency services.”

Amos, joined by Freson Bros. Red Seal chefs and a baker, worked tirelessly to prepare more than 100 meals daily for the firefighters and other emergency workers. And every morning, the fire crew would go to the store and grab any necessities they needed. Amos was also on call 24/7. “They didn’t really have any other option except for us. They needed sunscreen and they needed Vaseline for their feet and Hall’s (cough drops) because of the smoke.” 

Says Amos: “I couldn’t go and fight the fire. I just could do what I do best.”

Freybe Gourmet Foods

Since 1884, Freybe Gourmet Foods has made a name for itself not only as a producer of premium meat products, but as one of British Columbia’s most community-minded corporations. Freybe supports various charities, fundraisers, societies and other worthwhile groups and causes throughout Western Canada each year. 

One of the company’s proudest recent contributions to the community was its sponsorship of the Interpretative Gardens at The Salishan Place in Fort Langley, B.C., an outdoor community space developed in partnership with the four land-based q̓ic̓ y̓ (Katzie), q̓̓̓:n̓ n̓ (Kwantlen), Máthxwi (Matsqui), and Se’mya’me (Semiahmoo) First Nations. 

“Investing in Salishan Place by the River is a collaborative way for us to participate in activities that move us towards truth and meaningful reconciliation,” says Angela Doro, president, Freybe Gourmet Foods. 

Doro also noted Freybe’s work with the school district in Surrey, B.C. in sponsoring Maple Green Elementary’s Sensory Safe Mental Health Room, a dedicated space designed to promote mental health inclusivity. 

“As an employer, we have a strong mental health program here because we believe it’s important that people are able to bring their whole selves to work,” says Doro. “These children need a safe space for learning if they are to bring their best to school.”

general mills
Giving back is baked into the culture at General Mills where the volunteerism rate is over 85% in programs like the United Way and Breakfast for Kids

General Mills

General Mills Canada believes doing good and good business go hand in hand and the company practices this daily. 

As such, the company’s national volunteerism rate is more than 85% in programs such as the United Way/Centraide campaign, Global Volunteer Week, Breakfast for Kids program and World Food Day drive. Employees volunteered for 972 hours on company time during the United Way/Centraide campaign, doing everything from tree planting to preparing meals at food banks. 

The company has supported the Breakfast for Kids program at Brian W. Fleming Public School in Ontario’s Peel Region for more than 17 years, with employees volunteering daily at the school to ensure all children have breakfast. In 2022, General Mills Canada also donated $75,000 to the school to build a playground. 

Last year, Moisson Montréal, The Mississauga Food Bank, and United Way Greater Toronto each received US$33,000 from the General Mills Hometown Grant program, which allows employees to nominate charities to apply. 

“General Mills Canada has a longstanding reputation of giving back and supporting local communities. One of our key commitments as an organization is Standing for Good. We are very proud of the strong partnerships we have established with local non-profit organizations focused on charitable giving, fighting food insecurity and employee volunteerism,” says General Mills Canada president Vince Mendes de Franca.

kellogg better days
Kellogg’s Better Days Promise aims to create better days for three billion people by the end of 2030

Kellogg Canada

Kellogg has long been on a journey to positively impact people and the planet. Central to its environment, social and governance (ESG) strategy is the Kellogg’s Better Days Promise, which aims to create better days for three billion people by the end of 2030.

In Canada, the program comes to life in a variety of ways, including consumer activations, employee giving efforts, corporate in-kind and financial donations and volunteer activities. For example, during National Volunteer Week this year, Kellogg Canada hosted a community appreciation breakfast event at Daily Bread Food Bank, which included a power hour of food sorting and a financial donation of $50,000. It was all part of the company’s annual purpose-led initiative, KCI Day of Caring.

Kellogg is also a founding partner of Food Banks Canada’s “After the Bell” summer hunger initiative, which gives children access to nutritious foods when school programs are closed for the summer. At this year’s volunteer packing day, more than 50 Kellogg Canada head office employees helped put together 185,000 meal packs, which included an in-kind donation of 185,000 Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Squares Bars.

“At Kellogg, we have a deep commitment to advancing sustainable and equitable access to food for all,” says Lores Tomé, director, communications & corporate affairs, Kellogg Canada. “As food insecurity continues to grow at record levels in Canada, it’s more important than ever to come together and give back to the communities where we live, work and play. Volunteering is one of the many ways that we show up and live our K Values – always striving to create better days and a place at the table for those who need it most.”

Kraft Heinz Canada

Since 2006, Kraft Hockeyville has supported Canadian communities by making an impact on local hockey. The program is dedicated to building stronger, more inclusive communities across the country through the love of hockey. To date, Kraft Hockeyville has awarded $4.5 million to 93 communities across Canada. 

“For many communities, hockey is more than a sport and being crowned the Kraft Hockeyville champion is more than a title. It represents a passion, a way to connect and feel like their community is part of something bigger,” says Matt Bruce, senior brand manager, Kraft Heinz Canada. “We love seeing that excitement come through every year in the nomination stories, the local and virtual rallies, and the NHL pre-season game. The Kraft Hockeyville legacy is a powerful tool to ignite community spirit, which feels more necessary than ever for Canadians.”

Recently, West Lorne, Ont. was named Kraft Hockeyville 2023. In addition to $250,000 in arena upgrades, the community will receive $10,000 worth of youth hockey equipment from the NHLPA Goals & Dreams fund and the opportunity to host an NHL pre-season game.

As the number of minor hockey registrants grows to record levels, the community is running out of space. Winning Kraft Hockeyville will help with a range of upgrades including a new front entrance, new dressing rooms and an expanded warm room for families and fans. In addition, three finalists will each receive $25,000 in arena upgrades: Saint-Anselme, Que., Ste. Anne, Man. and Maple Ridge, B.C. 

Kruger Products

Kruger Products is making hockey more accessible to Canadians through its Kruger Big Assist program, which removes barriers to participation in the sport.

Since 2020, the program has committed more than $600,000 to address issues such as declines in registration, a lack of inclusivity and to welcome new immigrants to the sport.

“Sports play an important role in building healthy and happy communities and, when it comes to hockey, we believe every assist counts both on and off the ice,” says Susan Irving, the company’s chief marketing officer. “Our mission to make everyday life more comfortable for Canadians is reflected in the Kruger Big Assist, which underscores our commitment to continue helping more families have access to Canada’s game.”

This year, six Canadian minor hockey associations each received $25,000 Kruger Big Assist donations to subsidize player enrolment fees for those in need. 

Recipients were also invited to apply for the Second Assist, a $50,000 grant that recognizes the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in hockey. 

The 2023 Second Assist recipient, the Flin Flon Minor Hockey Association, is using the grant to create an inclusive environment in which all children can participate to the best of their abilities. The association is also encouraging young Canadian immigrants and local Indigenous communities to play hockey. 

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lactalis canada tree planting
From tree planting to restoring docks, P’tits Projets pas si P’tits helps small Quebec communities

Lactalis Canada

P’tit Quebec cheese has been a fixture in the lives of Quebecers, especially rural Quebecers, for 60 years. Realizing its role, P’tit Quebec launched the P’tits Projets pas si P’tits (which translates to not-so-small, small projects) in 2021 to help towns in the province with small but meaningful community projects they often lack the resources to complete. 

“We started a unique program, P’tits Projects pas si P’tits, which strengthens our commitment toward local communities in Quebec,” says Vince Vetere, general manager, cheese and table spreads at Lactalis Canada. “This unique, locally-focused initiative helps support communities with a hands-on approach including repairing, building and enhancing community infrastructure.”

Based on the success of its inaugural P’tits Projets pas si P’tits in SainteRose-du-Nord, Lactalis Canada’s P’tit Quebec brand wanted to make an even bigger impact with the program in 2022. In June of last year, P’tit Quebec visited the community of Sainte-Aurélie in the Chaudière-Appalaches region of Quebec (population: 910).

More than $55,000 was spent to help Sainte-Aurélie with several projects including: restoring the floating dock; building out a beachfront location; installing a shed for the community with garden tools; repairing the community sandbox; repairing the school’s soccer nets; creating a reading nook in the library; planting trees in the park; replacing bases and benches at the community baseball diamond; donating grocery carts to the recovering grocery store; and a donation of $10,000 towards other community-building initiatives.


Metro’s first company-wide fundraising campaign, Healthy Together, raised $2.2 million to help fight food insecurity. It was all thanks to the generosity of Metro, Food Basics, Super C, Première Moisson, Adonis, Jean Coutu and Brunet customers, who were invited last November and December to add $2, $5 or $10 to their bill. Metro donated an additional $550,000 to long-time partners Feed Ontario, Food Banks of Quebec and New Brunswick Food Depot Alimentaire, bringing the total to $2.8 million. 

Given that food banks can provide three meals for every $1 received, the donations represented nearly 8.4 million meals for those who need them most.

“It’s important for Metro to take concrete actions that can help reduce social inequalities, especially as they pertain to food and health,” says Marie-Claude Bacon, vice-president, public affairs and communications. Inflation and the continued impact of the pandemic have worsened food insecurity, she says.

“Our Healthy Together initiative enables us to mobilize customers, our store teams and affiliated pharmacy networks around a common purpose, and to make a difference in the many communities in which we operate in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick. This inaugural edition allowed us to bring together all our banners for the very first time, in our three provinces of activity, to serve a shared cause.”

P&G Canada

A few years back, P&G’s Pampers brand partnered with neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) nurses to develop a special diaper for preterm babies weighing as little as one pound, the first major diaper brand to do so. To mark Prematurity Awareness Month in 2020, the company donated $200,000 in NICU technology grants. One year later, the company launched a Preemie Family’s Mental Health Awareness campaign to shed light on the struggles experienced by some families of preterm babies. The campaign has become a multi-year effort, with donations to Canadian Premature Babies Foundation (CPBF) and Préma-Quebec. Pampers has donated $40,000 to provide 100 families with therapy sessions.

P&G continues to build on its work to support preemie families. In partnership with Walmart Canada, it is donating to the two organizations for every Pampers Swaddlers diaper pack sold at Walmart during campaign periods.

“As an aunt to preemie twins, I have witnessed first-hand how important it is to support parents of premature babies,” says Irena Kahn, brand director, Pampers Canada. “I am so proud of this long-standing Pampers program, in partnership with Walmart, that has donated over $240,000 and more than 200,000 diapers over the past four years to support families of premature babies across Canada.”


In 2022, Save-On-Foods successfully raised $1.5 million for five children’s hospitals across Western Canada through its partnership with Funding Innovation and the Art Easel Program.

“Save-On-Foods has been a huge supporter of children’s hospitals for decades and the Art Easel Program was a great opportunity to magnify our impact on Western Canadian families’ lives,” says Heidi Ferriman, senior vice-president of people and corporate affairs. 

Through this program, retail partners display art easels with Canadian-made prints for customers to purchase in silent auctions. At least 75% of net proceeds from each sale are donated to charity. Clown therapy, music therapy, vital research and urgently needed equipment are among the children’s hospital initiatives supported by the program.

Save-On-Foods has been one of Art Easel’s leading retail partners since 2016, expanding the program to 147 of its grocery stores across Western Canada.

“The Art Easel Program is turnkey for retailers, and simple for our customers. Each month there is a new and unique art print displayed in store that appeals to our very diverse customer base,” explains Ferriman. “Our regular shoppers love bidding on interesting art prints, while at the same time giving back to their communities in a quick and easy way.”


In 2020, Sobeys made a commitment to child and youth mental health by creating the “Family of Support: Child and Youth Mental Health Initiative,” and launched its inaugural partnership with The Sobey Foundation and Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations (CCHF).

The partnership, developed alongside Canada’s 13 children’s hospital foundations, invests millions of dollars and raises awareness for early interventions in mental health treatment. To date, more than $12 million has been raised and donated, 36 new treatment spaces have been created, 7,000 health-care providers have been trained, and more than 20,000 mental health assessments have been completed.

“Early intervention and access to mental health support gives children and youth the best possible chance to thrive,” says Sandra Sanderson, chief marketing officer for Empire Company. “We are proud of the impact Family of Support has had to date through the combined efforts of generous Canadians, our fellow teammates, and 13 children’s hospital foundations. Together we will continue to decrease stigma, increase early access to support and help address the local mental health needs for kids across the country.”

As part of the annual Family of Support campaign in 2022, Sobeys shared the inspiring stories of six patient ambassadors who received early intervention support funded by Family of Support. The company also created the TV spot “Clear the Clouds,” which showed how mental health challenges can start small, but don’t always stay that way. Customers were invited to support the initiative by donating in-store across Sobeys grocery banners. Over a two-day period in August, the company matched in-store customer donations, donating an additional $210,000. In total, the grocer raised $2.1 million to support early intervention programming for children and youths.

strong's market
Throughout the year, Vancouver’s Stong’s Market supports deserving local organizations in a variety of ways including fundraising, event sponsorship and donations

Stong’s Market

Since its opening in 1931, Stong’s Market has been committed to supporting local communities and charities in Vancouver. 

“Getting to develop friendships with wonderful people and organizations within our community is a privilege,” explains Tamsin Carling, marketing director for the indie grocer. “Giving back to people who live and work in proximity to our Stong’s Market locations is important to us and builds a strong association with our stores.”

Throughout the year, Stong’s supports local organizations through checkout fundraising campaigns, product and monetary donations, event and youth sport sponsorship, as well as bulk gift card and school rebate programs.

Highlights of Stong’s Market’s recent charitable contributions include the donation of more than $75,000 to date to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice; and in the 2021/2022 school year alone, the grocer helped raise more than $21,000 for local Parent Advisory Councils through its online grocery order school rebate program. Stong’s also partners with Food Stash Foundation to redistribute perishable food nearing expiration to Vancouverites facing food insecurity.

Canadian Grocer’s Impact Awards will be returning in 2024. Look out for our call for nominations in the New Year. 

Winners of the 2023 Impact Awards were first featured in Canadian Grocer’s August issue.

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