TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The COVID-19 crisis is putting unprecedented demand on Canada’s food banks. To help raise awareness, donations and to say thanks to those working so hard, Cheerios and its Canadian Olympic athlete partners are shifting the cheers that were originally destined for the athletes onto Canada’s frontline food bank heroes.
Food Banks Canada will also receive a $500,000 cash donation from Cheerios and $600,000 worth of food product from parent company General Mills.
“This generous help couldn’t come at a more crucial time for food banks across the country,” said Chris Hatch, Chief Executive Officer, Food Banks Canada. “The efforts being made by volunteers and frontline staff to keep up with demand is really heroic, and Cheerios’ initiatives to boost awareness and help bring in donations is very, very welcome.”
One in eight Canadians rely on food bank support, but Food Banks Canada now says it is seeing a large spike in the number of people turning to their resources amid massive layoffs across the country. During the 2008 financial crisis, food bank usage rose by 28 per cent – Food Banks Canada fears we could see an increase as large as 50 per cent over the course of the pandemic.
“We are pivoting our original plan from helping Canadians to cheer on our Olympic athletes, to those same Olympic athletes cheering on Canadians who are pushing themselves to help their communities in this time of tremendous need,” said Fawad Farrukh, Business Unit Director of Cereal at General Mills Canada
“These are the real heroes, and we’re proud to be able to help them out by raising awareness through our new ads, and by celebrating their spirit with our athlete partners.”
Under the Cheer the Food Banks Frontline initiative, Cheerios will repurpose its planned Olympic broadcast ad time to focus on the inspiring employees and volunteers who are keeping Canada’s food banks in operation, right when they’re needed the most. An animated spot which personifies the spirit of these hard-working helpers (and based on a real-life volunteer’s own story) begins airing the week of May 4th.
At the same time, a social media series of five videos starring Team Canada Olympic athletes will shift the spotlight to specific representative food bank workers as the true heroes of this time. Participating athletes are Andre De Grasse (Athletics), Penny Oleksiak (Swimming), Rosie MacLennan (Gymnastics), Matt Berger (Skateboarding) and Jennifer Abel (Diving).
These athletes appear on Cheerios boxes (already heading to store shelves due to production lead times) – but in the social media videos, each will reveal a new Cheer For The Food Banks Frontline box featuring the photo and personal story of a community food banker. These boxes are limited edition and will not be available in stores.
Olympic gold medalist Rosie MacLennan says the people feeding their communities at the food banks deserve all the thanks and cheer we can give them. "I have seen for myself how committed they are to helping others through tough times. It’s been inspiring to speak to people like Lynda and June, and I’m honoured to be revealing a special Cheerios box to support them. My grandma has volunteered at a food bank near her for years, and it makes me so proud of her and everyone she works with. They really are heroes, to me."
Full details about Cheer For The Food Banks Frontline can be found on the Cheerios Instagram feed @cheeriosca. For those who would like to support Food Banks Canada to help feed those in need, please visit www.foodbankscanada.ca.
About General Mills Canada Corporation
Established in 1954, General Mills Canada Corporation is based in Mississauga, Ontario. The company is dedicated to serving the world by making food people love. Its most popular products include Cheerios* and Honey Nut Cheerios* cereals, Nature Valley* snacks, Yoplait® and Liberte* dairy products, and Old El Paso* Mexican products.
General Mills is a proud and long-time supporter of Team Canada, Hockey Canada, Concerned Children's Advertisers and United Way.
*Trademarks of General Mills or its affiliates
® Trademarks of YOPLAIT MARQUES S.N.C. (France) used under license.