While some of us are already in the throes of our Christmas shopping, food banks up and down the UK are stockpiling items in preparation for the rollout of Universal Credit. But one supermarket is trying to lessen the blow, as Sainsbury’s is to introduce a series of new labels across 1,400 stores, advising customers which items are most useful to donate to food banks. A trial of the scheme at an Exeter store resulted in a three-fold rise in donations.
As part of the supermarket’s Help Brighten A Million Christmases campaign, customers will be encouraged to buy long-lasting items, such as UHT milk, tinned meat, fish and vegetables, and then donate them at the designated points at the checkouts. Alongside a similar scheme at Sainsbury’s sister company, Argos, the campaign is aiming to have one million donations of food and toys in time for Christmas.
Food banks are expecting a 'winter crisis' in coming months, as Universal Credit is rolled out in various boroughs, with many resorting to stockpiling supplies in preparation
The shelf labels are the result of a summer project by a group of Exeter teenagers, as part of their work with the National Citizen Service (NCS). The group realised that shoppers were only made aware of donation points after they had already finished their shop, so the hope is that the labels will remind customers to pick up the items as they go. The idea was pitched to the manager of their local Sainsbury’s and, after a successful trial, the group will now see their idea introduced to the rest of the UK on a permanent basis.
“The result of this initiative just goes to show that sometimes you just need a new mind on an old problem. Sometimes the most simple ideas have the greatest impact,” said Mark Richardson, the manager of the Exeter food bank that was the beneficiary of the trial. “This campaign has already had fantastic results locally, and I’m excited to see how it can benefit food banks and their clients across the UK.”
Food banks are expecting a “winter crisis” in coming months, as Universal Credit is rolled out in various boroughs, with many resorting to stockpiling supplies in preparation. The Trussell Trust – a charity that operates 428 food banks up and down the UK – has said that banks where the credit has been in place for 12 months were four times busier than other areas.