Loblaw kicks-off its "Extra Helping" campaign to raise food and funds in the
fight against hunger this holiday season

Once again, Loblaw corporate and franchised stores from coast to coast partner with local food banks

BRAMPTON, ON, Dec. 3 /CNW/ - Whether it is an extra bag of beans, jar of peanut butter, can of stew or a 'toonie' at the checkout, Loblaw Companies Limited is calling on Canadians to help food banks replenish their reserves this holiday season.

According to Loblaw partner Food Banks Canada, a national charitable organization representing the food bank community across Canada, an estimated 800,000 Canadians, with 37 per cent of them children, rely on a food bank in an average month. Food Banks Canada's recent HungerCount study also noted the need for food banks has increased in every region, with Alberta (+61%), Nova Scotia (+20%), Ontario (+19%), and Manitoba (+18%) experiencing the largest increases.

"As Canada's largest grocery retailer, we believe we have a responsibility to help in the fight against hunger," said Inge van den Berg, senior vice-president, Corporate Affairs Loblaw Companies Limited. "During the Loblaw Spring Food Drive we raised $700,000 in cash donations and 500,000 pounds of food and hope that with the continued support and generosity of our customers, colleagues, franchisees and their employees we can surpass these results with our Holiday Food Drive."

The Loblaw Holiday National Food Drive runs for two weeks beginning on December 3 in Quebec, December 4 in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and December 5 in Western Canada. One hundred per cent of food donations and 70 per cent of cash donations go to each store's local food bank, while 30 per cent of donated cash will support provincial programs benefiting food banks. The overall goal for 2009 is to raise two million pounds of food and $1 million for food banks across the country.

In addition to raising awareness and collecting food and funds, Loblaw has made a corporate donation of $250,000 to Food Banks Canada's National Food Sharing System.

"Food Banks across Canada are experiencing a significant increase in the number of people accessing their services," says Katharine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada. "Loblaw's Extra Helping campaign is providing an exceptional opportunity for Canadians to support their local food banks and we are thankful for the investment made by Loblaw and its franchisees to address the issue of hunger across Canada."

Canadians can make a difference in two ways: purchase or bring nutritious non-perishable food items and drop them into the donation bins in-store or make a cash donation at the checkout or online at www.canadahelps.org. According to Food Banks Canada, the most needed non-perishable items include peanut butter or nuts, baby food and formula, canned fruits and vegetables, canned fish or meat, and lentils. Other needed items include pasta and sauce, rice, whole grain cereals and aseptic packaged, powdered or canned milk.

In some stores across Canada, shoppers may note an Extra Helping(TM) logo featured on shelves in a variety of aisles, which will help shoppers quickly and easily identify the most needed items. The logo will also be featured on signs at store entrances, in-store displays, collection bins and at checkout to encourage cash donations.

Loblaw stores participating in the campaign operate under the following corporate and franchised banners: Loblaws, Loblaw Great Food, Fortinos, Zehrs, Zehrs Great Food, Your Independent Grocer, valu-mart, No Frills, Extra Foods, Dominion, Atlantic SaveEasy, Provigo, Maxi, Maxi & Cie, Wholesale Club, Loblaw Superstore, Atlantic Superstore and Real Canadian Superstore.

Loblaw and its franchisees are committed to being active in communities at the national, regional and local levels and the Company views this as an integral component to the success of its business. A commitment to make a positive difference in communities is one of five Loblaw corporate social responsibility pillars, which also includes respect the environment, source with integrity, reflect our nation's diversity and be a great place to work.

About Food Banks Canada

Food Banks Canada is a national charitable organization representing the food banks community across Canada. Our members and their respective agencies serve approximately 85 per cent of people accessing emergency food programs nationwide. Our mission is to meet the short term need for food and find long-term solutions to reduce hunger. Please visit www.foodbankscanada.ca for more information.

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 over 139,000 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(R), no name(R) and Joe Fresh Style(R) brands. In addition, the Company makes available to consumers President's Choice Financial(R) services and offers the PC(R) points loyalty program.

SOURCE Loblaw Companies Limited

For further information: For further information: For more information, hunger statistics, Extra Helping images or to arrange an interview, please contact: Karen Gumbs, Sr. Manager, Corporate Affairs, Loblaw Companies Limited, (905) 459-2500 ext. 616041, Karen.Gumbs@loblaw.ca; Marzena Gersho, Director, Partnerships and Programs, Food Banks Canada, (416) 203-9241, ext. 28, marzena@foodbankscanada.ca

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