When communities are in need, grocers are the first to lend a hand as seen in the outpouring of support the industry has shown in the wake of the devastating Fort McMurray wildfires that have now burnt over 100,000 hectares of land.
“Community grocers are the heart and soul of the markets they service,” said Thomas A. Barlow, president and CEO of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG). “During times of crisis like the one we are experiencing in Fort McMurray, grocery retailers and their suppliers have continuously stepped forward to provide support and comfort. From food drives, to fundraising initiatives, our grocers are stepping up to help in whatever ways they can.”
Federated Co-operative Ltd announced this morning that it is donating another $100,000 (along with its ongoing commitment to the Red Cross for disaster relief) to the Red Cross specifically for disaster assistance for Fort McMurray said Ron Welke, Associate Vice President, Food. The donation is part of a $1 million commitment supporting Red Cross activities across Western Canada.
Welke added that today’s donation does not include the efforts by FCL, retail Co-ops and their customers on the front line. “FCL is working to deliver more products to serve evacuees while retails are finding ways to support evacuees in the communities that need the most assistance,” he said.
Welke explained that near Fort McMurray, the local Co-op in Plamondon, Alta., is now operating 24 hours to serve the rush of evacuees while employees and community volunteers are working to keep supplies on shelves. In Boyle, Alta., North Corridor Co-op has kept its gas bar open, extending its hours and serving free coffee. Co-ops throughout the region have also been busy delivering fuel to local Tempos to keep them from running out.
Federated Co-operatives Limited’s Edmonton Region Office has sent employees to the area to help Plamondon and North Corridor Co-ops respond to the demand.
“My team and our relatives from The Grocery People have been working hard with suppliers to get stock into these stores,” said Bob Thurstan, Food Marketing Manager in FCL’s Edmonton Region. “Nobody is saying, ‘It can’t be done.’ Everyone is saying, ‘What needs to be done?’ ”
Meanwhile, St. Paul Co-op has deployed its Co-op Community Connector – a trailer that can prepare food for large groups at public events – to Lac La Biche, Alta., to serve meals to evacuees. In addition to donating two cents per litre of fuel sold, the co-op is also collecting donations from customers, which it will match up to a total of $5,000, in support of the Canadian Red Cross.
In British Columbia, Vanderhoof Co-op has provided fuel and supplies to volunteers who are driving to affected communities to deliver emergency supplies.
Other retail co-ops supporting relief efforts:
Read full Co-op Wildfire Relief effort HERE.
Meanwhile, Associated Grocers has already donated and shipped a pallet of water to an independent store in the area for distribution to firefighters and evacuees and are working with other independents in the area to determine needs and what we can reasonably do to help;
Dan Bregg, president of Buy Low Foods said its supply chain people have gone out to suppliers with requests for donations of water, Gatorade, PowerAde, baby food, diapers, granola bars, power bars and other appropriate foodstuffs. Bregg said they will in turn distribute to stores (independent and corporate) in the areas where evacuees have been moved to for donation to evacuees.
He added that their stores in Boyle and Athabasca are doing their best to be available for evacuees to obtain immediate needs (extended hours) and will be points of distribution for donated products that we are working to get to those affected.
Bregg said the company is also finalizing arrangements for setting up a relief fund at all B.C. and Alberta stores with funds designated for distribution to an appropriate agency set up to assist those affected.
Over at TGP, its retailers have taken it upon themselves to help the neighbouring town of Fort McMurray. To help spread awareness at the the local level, TGP has put together a template fillable poster and graphic for retails to use in-store and on social media. TGP community locations have also started a “Round-up for Red Cross” to raise money for the families.
Qualicum Beach grocer Quality Foods asked customers to donate any amount of their Q-POints to support relief efforts by the Canadian Red Cross with the grocer matching donations. The Q-Points were converted to a monetary donation of $68,748 to the Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal.
Ontario grocery chain, Longo’s has also joined in assisting those in need.
Rosanne Longo said the Longo’s Family Charitable Foundation will be contributing $25,000 to the relief efforts. “As part of our Humanitarian/Disaster Relief policy, we have partnered with the Canadian Red Cross to set up a dedicated ‘Longo’s’ fundraising page to make an appeal to Longo’s team members to join us by giving directly to the Red Cross. This page will track those donations and the government will match individual donations dollar for dollar,” she explained.
Longo’s also plans on putting a note on their digital screens at cash and on longos.com/grocerygateway.com for customers, then we can try to increase that even more.
Monetary donations can be made through the Red Cross. You can also donate by texting “REDCROSS” to 30333.
Those interested in volunteering through the regional municipality can apply here.
Stay tuned for updates.
© 2019 Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers