By: O’Niel Barrington Blair
An east Toronto food bank has launched a campaign to encourage people to donate their $25 Loblaws gift cards to help feed the hungry.
The $25 gift cards are being given in response to a price-fixing bread prices for 14-years.
Loblaws’ parent company, George Weston Ltd., revealed last year that they had been part of an industry-wide bread price-fixing scheme over 14 years – from 2001 to 2015 – that involved other grocers and another bread maker.
Weston Ltd owns Loblaws, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Fortinos, Shoppers Drug Mart, among other national grocery stores. George Weston Ltd runs Weston Foods, which owns baked-good brands including Wonder Bread, ACE Bakery, Country Harvest and D’Italiano.
Weston is facing a $1 billion dollar class-action lawsuit launched in in Dec.
Matthew Yuill, a volunteer for the Bluffs Food Bank, said these gift cards can do a lot of good for those in need.
“It’s an opportunity to make a free donation,” Yuill said
The initiative launches tomorrow and doesn’t have a cut off date.
On Monday, Loblaws, a grocery giant, released an application people can fill out to receive the $25 gift card.
Donating money or gift cards to food banks stretches the dollar, allowing them to allocate the funds to what clients need most, Yuill said.
Sometimes food banks receive an influx of one food item so they use cash and gift cards to offset this. For example after receiving large amounts of pasta, money could be used to buy the sauce to accompany it, he said.
According to the Ontario Association of Food Banks, OAFB, one dollar allows them to provide about three meals to those in need. Therefore a donation of $25 could provide up to 75 meals for people.
Loblaws said they plan on taking applications up until May 8. However, they also say they have the right to limit the number of cards that will be given out.
The application asks for several things including multiple phone numbers, home address and how many occupants of the address.
The company said that they will not use the information for marketing purposes.
According to the website the cards may take 6-12 weeks.
Yuill said hunger is a constant problem but things are especially hard for some people in Jan., Feb. and Mar. and food banks serve a larger number of clients.
Ongoing donations is the main thing keeping people fed.
“People who suffer from food insecurity are hungry year round,” he said.