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Celebrating our Grocery Heroes
July 19 is Grocery Heroes Day, and during this time, the food industry recognizes employees at every level for the work they do, feeding families and enriching lives. We couldn’t help but join the celebration by acknowledging the incredible impact grocery store employees have on our ability to help feed Calgarians experiencing crisis and food insecurity.
During the past year and a half, COVID-19 has prevented the Calgary Food Bank from hosting events in our community, but the grocery stores have stepped up to keep our organization in the mind of Calgarians. Cashiers and front-end staff are always encouraging their customers to make donations of funds through the till or to purchase pre-built food bank bags. Those plastic bags filled with our most needed items come in different shapes and sizes depending on the store, but every month, somewhere between 13,000 and 20,000 of those bags makes its way back to us to be sorted and distributed.
We were blown away by the amount of support we received from all the staff and our customers. You’ve heard of the sea of red, well at our store, the donations created a sea of yellow.
Vanessa Ogden, manager at Country Hills Superstore, brought the ‘filling food bags for sale’ initiative from another store and was unsure how the employees and customers would receive the project. “We were blown away by the amount of support we received from all the staff and our customers. You’ve heard of the sea of red, well at our store, the donations created a sea of yellow.” In just one month-long campaign, her store collected over 12,000 pounds of food.
As a co-operative, it’s in our DNA to give back and support our community. More people than ever are in need, and this is one thing which we can do to give back. Ultimately, everyone wants to help their neighbours.
Many of the stores get creative. Mike Mills, Calgary Co-op Centre Manager, Village Square, says the key is the engagement of your front-end people. “We try and make it fun and a challenge – we have a contest for our top “sellers”, and we do crazy things like we got our heads shaved and pies-in-the-face as part of the celebration because our efforts are truly for a great cause.” A couple of staff members set up a big display at the front of the store to promote the campaign. They created “human food hampers”, pinning empty packages of our most needed items to clothes. “As a co-operative, it’s in our DNA to give back and support our community. More people than ever are in need, and this is one thing which we can do to give back. Ultimately, everyone wants to help their neighbours.”
We are extremely proud and incredibly grateful of the connection with our more than 100 grocery store partners, including Sobeys, Safeway, Save On Foods, Calgary Co-op, Superstore, No Frills, Costco and Walmart. It is a great honour to work with so many dedicated employees that understand the importance of giving back.
We know that asking customers to make donations is never an easy thing to do, and yet our Grocery Heroes do it every day. Whether for a special campaign or through the daily course of business, the cashiers and front-end workers make sure that the Calgary Food Bank receives consistent donations of quality food and critical funds. On July 19, make sure you thank your Grocery Hero for helping to feed YYC!