Why we’re giving away our Loblaws cards
In late 2017, Canadians learned that Loblaws was an active participant in a price-fixing scheme that artificially inflated the price of bread for almost fifteen years. Despite benefiting handsomely from illegally raising the cost of a basic kitchen staple, the company neglected to pass along any of the profits to the farmers who harvested the wheat, or even to their own employees.
To mitigate the PR damage, Loblaws offered $25 cards to customers affected by the scheme. In response, a grassroots social media campaign emerged to encourage Canadians to donate their cards to local food banks.
Here at The Stop, we’ve started to receive card contributions from our supporters and volunteers. We’re so grateful for these donations. And we’re so excited to give them away.
It may sound comically simplistic, but putting money directly in the hands of people experiencing poverty is one of the most effective ways of improving their access to food. A single person receives just $721 per month on OW and $1,151 on ODSP, while the average price of a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto has topped $1,200. When food prices rise, people on low incomes are forced to make impossible choices between food, shelter, transit, and other necessities. “On average, Canadians spend less than 10% of their income on food,” writes Oxfam Canada. “However, people living in poverty spend 50% and the poorest as much as 75% of their income on food. When prices mushroom, these people must do without.”
Giving buying power directly to those who can most benefit from it is also a much more dignified experience for all involved. As an organization, we strive to provide members of our community with as much choice as possible when they access our food bank and drop-in meal programs. But at the end of the day, we’re still making purchasing decisions on their behalf based on the resources we have—not always on their specific wants and needs.
So rather than buying the items we think our community members might need from major supermarket chains (which have also caused significant inequalities in our food system), we’ll be sharing all donated Loblaws cards directly with participants in our programs to thank them for their contributions to our community.
You can register for your Loblaws card until May 8th, 2018, using this website. If you’d like to donate your Loblaws card to our program participants, please visit us at our 1884 Davenport location during our business hours, or at the Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns on Saturday mornings (look for The Stop’s booth). You can also mail your card to us at P.O. Box 69, Stn. E., Toronto, ON, M6H 4E1. Please activate your card before donating.