On Tuesday, at Food Banks Canada's fourth annual partner celebration, the organization recognized the support of corporate partners Loblaw, Walmart and Shaw Media.
An estimated 900,000 Canadians are assisted by Food Banks Canada each month, and some $35 million worth of food was distributed last year, said Katharine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada. There has also been a 31 per cent increase on the reliance on food banks since 2008.
Food Banks presented its Innovator of the Year award to Walmart Canada.
Last year, Walmart donated more than 160,000 pounds of food, and partnered its stores with a local food bank.
John Lawrence, Walmart's director of corporate social responsibility, said this year, the retailer is planing to expand the program to all of its 380 stores.
He added Walmart is looking "at a minimum" to double the amount of food donated this year compared to last year.
This program hits both of Walmart's two CSR pillars–helping Canadian families in need, and sustainability, said Lawrence.
The Award of Excellence was given to Loblaw Cos.
The grocer has been involved with Food Banks Canada for more than 10 years, and has contributed $6 million towards fighting hunger since 2009.
Peggy Hornell, senior director of community investment and President's Choice Children's Charity, said that the retailer tries to make its food drives more relevant and grow them each year.
Shaw Media was the recipient of the Donor of the Year award. To view donor award videos go here.
A new partner this year for Food Banks Canada is Target Canada. The retailer, set to open its first of 124 stores in Canada starting in March, is looking to partner each store with a local food bank, said Diane Gordon, group manager, community relations. The retailer runs a similar program with its U.S. stores.
With the growing need for donations, last year Food Banks Canada launched its retail food program, which connects participating retailer stores with local food banks to direct donations that may have become unsaleable.
As part of the program, stores set aside such products for weekly pickup by a food bank in their community. To date, Walmart, Target and Loblaw have all signed on to participate.