Annual Holiday Food Drive Challenges Canadians to "Think Fresh" this Holiday Season

Loblaw Holiday Food Drive aims to raise funds for fresh meals for families in need

BRAMPTON, ON, Dec. 4, 2015 /CNW/ - (TSX:L) – The holiday season is synonymous with families gathering to enjoy home-cooked meals; but for many Canadians, this festive occasion will not include a spread of seasonal dishes. For more than 850,000 Canadians, one-third of which are children*, their holiday menu will be determined by what is available at local food banks across Canada.

According to the Loblaw Holiday Food Drive Survey, 84 per cent of Canadians plan to donate to a food bank this holiday season, however many do not understand the importance of cash donations or associate them with fresh foods – just 24 per cent believe money donated is for purchasing fresh foods.

The data comes in contrast to Canadians' feeling towards fresh foods as part of their holiday meal: 87 per cent of Canadians believe that half or more of the dishes on the table for their holiday meal will be fresh items and more than three-quarters of Canadians, 76 per cent, believe it would be very or somewhat difficult to meet all of their nutritional requirements with canned and processed foods.

"Fresh foods are at the core of our business and it is our responsibility to advocate for increased access for all Canadians," said Sonya Fiorini, senior director of corporate social responsibility, Loblaw companies Limited. "Our survey shows that less than 20 per cent of Canadians plan to contribute financially to food banks this year, which could limit the fresh food available and leave holes on holiday tables across the country. We are urging our customers to join with us in an effort to provide more fresh meals this holiday season."

Understanding the importance of fresh food for any holiday meal, Loblaw is using the annual Holiday Food Drive to increase awareness of a non-perishable most Canadians don't consider – money.

"Imagine a holiday meal without fresh food. No turkey, no colourful assortment of farm-fresh greens – for many Canadian families, this is a reality," said Katharine Schmidt, executive director, Food Banks Canada. "Monetary donations give food banks the flexibility to provide more fresh items for people in need, and to purchase other food or personal care products they may be lacking."

Since launching in 2009, Loblaw's Food Drives have raised $10.8-million and 10.7 Million pounds of food to help Canadian families. Consumers are encouraged to make a cash donation or donate non-perishable food items when they visit their local Loblaw retail store and participating franchise location. Loblaw has set a goal to raise $1.5-million and 1-million pounds of food for Canadian food banks during the 2015 holiday season through local food drives at Real Canadian Superstore, Loblaws, No Frills, Zehrs, Atlantic Superstore and Your Independent Grocer locations across Canada.

For more information on the Loblaw Holiday Food Drive, please visit: support.foodbankscanada.ca/loblaw.

*Food Banks Canada Hunger Count 2015

About the Loblaw Holiday Food Drive Survey
The Loblaw Holiday Food Drive Survey was conducted online by Environics Research with 1,238 respondents from across Canada who were 18 years of age or older, between November 20 to 23, 2015.

About Food Banks Canada
Food Banks Canada supports a unique network of over 3,000 food-related organizations in every province and territory that assists more than 850,000 Canadians each month. Together our network shares over 200 million pounds of essential safe quality food annually, provides social programs that help to foster self-sufficiency, and advocates for policy change that will help create a Canada where no one goes hungry. Visit foodbankscanada.ca for more information.

About Loblaw Companies Limited
Loblaw Companies Limited 
is Canada's food and pharmacy leader, the nation's largest retailer, and the majority unit holder of Choice Properties Real Estate Investment Trust. Loblaw provides Canadians with grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, banking, and wireless mobile products and services. With more than 2,300 corporate, franchised and Associate-owned locations, Loblaw, its franchisees, and Associate-owners employ approximately 192,000 full and part-time employees, making it one of Canada's largest private sector employers.

Loblaw's purpose – Live Life Well – puts first the needs and well-being of Canadians who make one billion transactions annually in the companies' stores. Loblaw is positioned to meet and exceed those needs in many ways: convenient locations; more than 1,050 grocery stores that span the value spectrum from discount to specialty; full-service pharmacies at more than 1,250 Shoppers Drug Mart® and Pharmaprix® locations and more than 500 Loblaw locations; PC Financial® no-fee banking; affordable Joe Fresh® fashion and family apparel; and three of Canada's top consumer brands in Life Brand®no name® and President's Choice®. Through the PC Plus® and Shoppers Optimum® loyalty programs, more than one in every three Canadians are rewarded for shopping with the companies.

SOURCE Loblaw Companies Limited

For further information: Media Contact: Tia Thomas, Environics Communications, tthomas@environicspr.com, (416) 969-2729

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