By Mary Scianna
When an employee at an Oakville, Ont., Fortinos store saw the difficulties some people were having during Easter accessing food, she came up with an idea to support them. Within two weeks, Fortinos launched the “Put a heart in your cart” campaign to raise funds for food banks and support people in need. The campaign is now live across all of Fortinos’ 23 stores in Ontario.
Donating to communities is not new to Fortinos, says Peter Weicker, vice president of marketing and merchandising, who along with Beverly Wright, Fortinos’ director of marketing spoke with Grocery Business Magazine about the new campaign, which launched last week.
“We’ve always run an Easter food drive and sell prefilled bags, one with non-perishable foods and a second filled with personal hygiene products. This year, we put in orders for all products and then the COVID crisis hit and we had to cease that program. We knew there was a huge need in our communities,” explains Wright.
That’s when Nicole Cornfoot, assistant store manager at the Fortinos Neyagawa store in Oakville, came up with the idea of the “Put a heart in your cart.”
“It was a terrific grassroots idea, says Weicker. "In fact, a lot of the best ideas start with the store because these are our frontline workers whose ideas stem from their experiences. Nicole came to us with the idea just before Easter and within two weeks we launched the campaign.”
Cornfoot says while she came up with the idea, it was a collaborative effort with her team.
“Our front end team and even some of our part time cashiers noticed customers beginning to bring in donations for our Easter drive and when we realized we couldn’t do the annual drive, we knew we had to come up with an idea to help with food donations. It hit me one day driving to work that we’re the supermarket with a heart and the idea emerged of putting some love in your cart to help people in need.”
She adds that one of the reasons she joined Fortinos eight years ago was because she was impressed with its history of community giving.
“Fortinos has always had a focus on community and our local food banks rely pretty heavily on us because we’ve always come through for them over the holidays and I’ve always enjoyed this aspect of the company. I’m really impressed with this and proud to work with Fortinos.”
Fortinos launched the campaign on April 16. All of the stores have signage, including at checkout, wth plans to affix signage to debit machines, the week of April 20 to remind customers to donate to those in need. The grocer is also promoting the campaign in its flyers and through Facebook postings.