Loblaws $25 gift certificates should be in the mail soon and the head of Food Banks B.C. says she is encouraged by how many people are already offering to donate their grocery gift cards.

The Canadian grocery giant is giving out the cards as a goodwill gesture after admitting to an illegal bread price-fixing scheme that took place between 2002 and 2015.

Monday was the first day customers could sign up online to receive one.

It wasn't long before people took to social media, calling for the cards to be donated to local food banks.  

"We are very grateful for this movement to help the food banks and to know that people instinctively thought to help others when the situation arose," said Laura Lansink, executive director of Food Banks B.C.

B.C. food banks serve 104,000 people every month, one-third of whom are children.  

The donations would make a significant difference, Lansink told CBC host of The Early Edition Stephen Quinn.

"Every dollar that a food bank gets buys the equivalent of three nutritious meals for someone in need," she said. "It's going to make a huge impact, especially for kids."

Donate gift cards, food

Gift cards or money are especially useful because they don't have an expiry date and food banks don't pay any storage fees for the items.

The gift cards are available to people who bought one of 12 brands of packaged bread products between 2002 and 2015 at any Loblaws store, which include No Frills, Superstore and others.

The cards themselves have no expiry date but must be used for food products.

Save-On-Foods is also offering a $25 "shopping incentive" to customers through its rewards program.

The grocery chain buys bread from two of the bread-making companies under investigation, even though it had no involvement in the illegal price-fixing scandal.

"I am just so encouraged by what is happening," Lansink said.

"Even if it's just one item for every gift card that was purchased — say a jar of peanut butter or a can of tuna or something like that folks donated — we'd still see a huge swelling of donations."

With files from The Early Edition

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