A new initiative by Sainsbury’s is set to generate over one million meals in food donations, to be distributed to charities across the country. The One Million Meal Appeal, launching on Saturday, gives customers the opportunity to add an extra store cupboard item to their shopping, which will then be delivered to local community projects by FareShare.
A recent study by FareShare, shows that 42% of charities have seen an increase in demand for food over the past year, and 1 in 3 of the charities surveyed are struggling to meet this demand, due to government funding cuts.
The appeal is to be introduced to all Sainsbury's supermarkets across the country as well as a number of convenience stores, following a successful trial in July, when customers donated 25 tones of food over three days.
Sainsbury's will also match every meal generated by its customers.
Sainsbury's retail and logistics director, Roger Burnley said: "When we ran the trial of this scheme, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of customers. It seems that even though household budgets are under pressure, people are still keen to help those less fortunate. By rolling this out across the country, we hope to have a massive impact on community food charities who are more in need of support than ever."
FareShare is a national food charity that addresses hunger in the UK by redistributing quality surplus food from the food industry to people who need it. Sainsbury's has been working with FareShare since 1994, but this is the first time customers across the UK are being asked to actively take part.
The initiative was met with praise from Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd MP, who commented: "I welcome today's announcement from Sainsbury's. Their progressive initiative with FareShare will encourage consumers up and down the country to get involved in their local community and support the vulnerable and needy - it is a great example of the principles of Every Business Commits, this coalition government's strong belief that every business can play a positive role in society."
FareShare provides surplus, quality food from the food industry to a network of grassroots community organisations all over theUK, saving them almost £8 million a year in food and other costs. This food now reaches 35,000 people a day, up from 29,000 last year, following the largest ever annual increase in the number of charities desperate for FareShare food, up from 600 to 700.
Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive of FareShare says: "Sainsbury's has been involved with FareShare since the beginning, working with us to ensure that good food isn't wasted. If food cannot be sold, but can be eaten, it should always go to people first.
"With this food drive, we have a fantastic opportunity to engage with individuals: Sainsbury's customers will be able to support hungry people in a very tangible way and generally support a charity who offers a very practical solution to the issues of food waste and food poverty.
"We have an ambitious target to secure enough food for a record one million meals. We would like to encourage anyone who has an interest in food and supporting vulnerable people to support FareShare on Saturday 26th November. With their help, we can feed even more good food to some of the poorest people in our society, and help in some way to give them a happy Christmas this year."
Jacquie Cahill, Supply Chain Director, Allied Bakeries, which is providing logistical support to the initiative, said: "With our vast network of people, Allied Bakeries is a perfect fit for this programme. We're always looking at ways for the industry to reduce waste so we're delighted to be part of a programme that seeks to rectify this imbalance. A number of our employees are committing their time and resources to collect around 1,300 food bins from Sainsbury's stores across the country this weekend."
The One Million Meal appeal takes place in over 600 Sainsbury's stores across the UK on Saturday 26th November. Customers can choose from a variety of long-life items (tins, dried pasta, rice, tea and coffee), to complement the predominantly fresh food that Sainsbury's supplies to FareShare, enabling the charity to profide food towards nutritious meal. The items are purchased as normal at the checkout and left in the FareShare trolley at the end of the checkout area. The food will then be collected by either Sainsbury's or corporate partner Allied Bakeries and sent to FareShare to be redistributed to local charities and community groups across the UK.