Sobeys builds on Special Olympics partnership

The grocery retailer rolls out a two-week effort to raise $1 million dollars for communities across the country.

Sobeys-SOCSobeys is running a national campaign in support of Special Olympics Canada (SOC), building on a longstanding partnership to help athletes with intellectual disabilities learn about nutrition.

Launching last week and running until July 3, Sobeys locations nationwide (except for Quebec) will host a fundraising campaign, aiming to raise $1 million for Special Olympics groups across the country. During the campaign period, customers can make a $2 donation at their local store with 100% of funds raised supporting Special Olympics community programs across Canada.

On June 22, participating stores hosted a Sobeys’ Summer Food Fair, which featured more than 400 Special Olympics athletes, coaches and representatives visiting select stores across the country. They interacted with customers, answered questions about their participation in Special Olympics programs and spoke to the power of food and the importance of fundraising activities. On that day, the brand watched donations hit $150,000.

Special Olympics Canada chose the 230 store locations across Canada for the campaign. Jacquelin Weatherbee, director,  external communications, Sobeys, says the brand made sure it had strong national representation across its banners, including Sobeys, Safeway, Foodland, IGA, Urban Fresh and Thrifty Foods.

“We are proud of our Sobeys teammates across Canada who are also Special Olympics athletes and are thrilled to continue our first-of-its-kind nutrition program as part of the Special Olympics movement,” Weatherbee says. She tells strategy that the brand has been a national partner of Special Olympics Canada since 2016, focusing on ways to empower athletes to live healthier lives (Sobeys was a co-presenting sponsor of the 2018 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games held in Nova Scotia, where the brand provided thousands of healthy snacks and meals to fuel athletes, coaches and volunteers during the Games, which it promoted through social).

Weatherbee says the brand sees a natural alignment between physical activity and nutrition, which has been a key value for the grocery banner and its CSR initiatives. In 2018, Sobey’s launched “Nutrition Sessions,” in which 100 Sobeys office employees across five provinces volunteered their time to lead hands-on sessions that teach Special Olympics athletes how to incorporate easy and nutritious recipes into their lives. Sobeys also profiled the stories of athletes, families, employees, volunteers, and coaches from across the country on Instagram.

According to Weatherbee, Sobeys’ partnership with SOC is also connected to its core value of proudly serving communities. Sobeys has contributed more than $2.8M to date in support of nutrition education, access to food and local Special Olympics community sports programs.

For its part, SOC has been emphasizing healthy lifestyles independently in its campaigns as well. In 2018, for its 50th anniversary, SOC launched “Challenge Accepted” with Grey Toronto, showing the elite-level training its athletes go through and how that translates into skills for their everyday lives.