CALGARY, April 8 /CNW/ - The arrival of spring is marked by a period of need for food and funds at food banks across Canada. To help stock the shelves, Loblaw Companies Limited (Loblaw) and its banner stores today kicked off its 2011 Extra Helping™ Spring National Food Drive. Nationally, Loblaw's goal is to raise $1.2 million and 1.2 million pounds of food in 2011.

In Alberta, grocery shoppers are encouraged to donate non-perishable food items or make a cash donation next time they visit their local No Frills®, Extra Foods®, Wholesale Club™ and Real Canadian Superstore® store locations. The campaign runs from Friday April 8 to Thursday April 28.

"More than 59,311 Albertans each month need our assistance to help provide nutritious meals for their families," says Suzan Krecsy, board chair, Alberta Food Banks. "Programs like the Loblaw 2011 Extra Helping™ Spring National Food Drive help us to stock our shelves year-round, and continue to serve families across Alberta that otherwise would go hungry."

One hundred per cent of food donated, and 70 per cent of the cash donated, go to local Alberta food banks. The remaining 30 per cent of donated cash goes to Alberta Food Banks in support of provincial food bank programs.

According to Alberta Food Banks, the most needed non-perishable items include: juice or powdered milk, baby formula with iron and jarred baby food, pasta and pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, peanut butter, processed cheese spread, canned beans in tomato sauce, cereal, rice, canned and dry soup, canned fish and meat, macaroni and cheese, and canned vegetables and fruit.

"As Canada's largest grocery retailer, we take seriously the responsibility to support the communities we serve with locally focused efforts like the Loblaw Extra Helping Spring National Food Drive," says Peggy Hornell, senior director, Community Investment, Loblaw Companies Limited. "We appreciate the efforts of our customers and their support for local food drives can help those in need."

Loblaw corporate and participating franchise stores taking part in the 2011 Extra Helping™ Spring National Food Drive across the country are: Loblaws®, Loblaw Great Food™, Fortinos®, Zehrs Markets®, Zehrs Great Food™, Your Independent Grocer®, valu-mart®, No Frills®, Extra Foods®, Dominion® (Newfoundland and Labrador), SaveEasy®, Provigo®, Maxi®, Maxi & Cie®, Wholesale Club™(West), Atlantic Superstore® and Real Canadian Superstore®. A second national food drive is scheduled for December 2011.

Loblaw is committed to being active in communities at the local, regional and national levels where it operates, and the Company views this as an integral component to the success of its business. The Extra Helping™ Spring National Food Drive is one of Loblaw's corporate social responsibility pillars to Make a Positive Difference in Our Community. The other Loblaw corporate social responsibility pillars include Respect the Environment, Source with Integrity, Reflect our Nation's Diversity and Be a Great Place to Work.

About Alberta Food Banks
Alberta Food Banks is the provincial charitable organization representing the food bank community across Alberta. Our member food banks, and their respective agencies, serve over 80% of people accessing emergency food programs province wide.  Our mission is to provide support and leadership to food banks in Alberta in their efforts to provide short-term relief in the area of food insecurity while working on long-term solutions for hunger and poverty.

About Loblaw Companies Limited
Loblaw Companies Limited, a subsidiary of George Weston Limited, is Canada's largest food distributor and a leading provider of drugstore, general merchandise and financial products and services. Loblaw is one of the largest private sector employers in Canada. With more than 1,000 corporate and franchised stores from coast to coast, Loblaw and its franchisees employ more than 136,000 full-time and part-time employees. Through its portfolio of store formats, Loblaw is committed to providing Canadians with a wide, growing and successful range of products and services to meet the everyday household demands of Canadian consumers. Loblaw is known for the quality, innovation and value of its food offering. It offers Canada's strongest control (private) label program, including the unique President's Choice®, no name® and Joe Fresh Style® brands. In addition, the Company makes available to consumers President's Choice Financial® services and offers the PC® points loyalty program.

SOURCE Loblaw Companies Limited

For further information:

Loblaw Public Relations
(905) 459-2500
        Suzan Krecsy
Board Chair
Alberta Food Banks
(780) 459-0599
        Marjorie Bencz
Executive Director
Edmonton's Food Bank
(780) 426-7657



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