Since Loblaw announced it would be giving out $25 gift cards in response to its role in a bread price-fixing scheme, Canadian charities have reported a surge of people looking to donate them.
The Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB) says their organization and its sister groups are more than happy to accept the cards, but says would-be donors can actually triple their assistance by not donating the cards.
That’s because when they get the cards, food banks are forced to buy food at retail stores, rather than through their bulk wholesale suppliers, explained GVFB CEO Aart Schuurman Hess.
“When we receive gift cards, we have to do our shopping in the store and pay with those gift cards, and pay retail prices,” Schuurman Hess told CKNW’s Jill Bennett Show.
“To give you a perfect example, when we buy apples straight from the farm, we pay between 25 and 30 cents a pound. When we have to to go to the store, that amount is much higher. That’s where the buying power comes in.”
Schuurmann Hess says food banks prefers cash donations, because they can take that money and buy in bulk from local farmers and large suppliers — transforming every donated dollar into $3 worth of food.
Turning the cards to cash to power-up donations
Schuurmann Hess says the charity will still gladly accept the cards, but he recommends would-be donors take another approach instead: use the card at the store to buy yourself $25 worth of food, then make a $25 cash donation to the food bank.
WATCH: Should you sign up for Loblaw’s $25 gift card?
A cash donation will also get you a charitable donation tax receipt — something you’ll miss out on if you just give the card.
Schuurmann Hess says the GVFB, which serves about 27,000 people a week in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and the North Shore, is also educating its members on how to apply for the gift cards themselves.
Loblaw began accepting registrations for the $25 gift cards in January, after admitting its part in an industry-wide bread price-fixing arrangement.
To qualify for a gift card, you must not be a minor and must declare you bought certain packaged bread products at eligible banner stores in Canada before March 1, 2015.
You can register for one of the cards here. Registration closes May 8.