M&S Food Reaches Milestone Of Donating 50 Million Meals To Local UK Charities
Over 6,000 charitable organizations have benefited from Neighbourly’s seven-year partnership.
M&S also announces the donation of 95,000 ambient products for Christmas, as 83% of local groups report an increase in demand for their services.
Retailer moves closer to goal of redistributing 100 percent of edible surplus by 2025
In the past seven years, M&S Food has donated over 50 million meals to local charities through its partnership with Neighbourly, which aims to reduce food waste in-store.
Over 2,700 charitable organizations, ranging from after-school programs to food banks, have benefited from M&S’s donations of edible unsold fresh, ambient, and chilled food, and over 6,000 have benefited from the partnership with Neighbourly.
As a result of the rising cost of living, local groups throughout the United Kingdom are experiencing an increase in support requests. In the most recent community survey conducted by Neighbourly, 83% of groups reported an increase in demand, while 61% reported a decline in food donations from the general public. 73% express a desire for more food items to support those who utilize their services.
To provide additional assistance to those in need in the run-up to Christmas, M&S is donating 95,000 ambient products worth £50,000 directly to groups. This is in addition to its existing £1 million donation to support 1,000 local community groups through Neighbourly’s ‘Gifts That Give’ Clothing and Home campaign.
Customers of M&S who wish to donate items themselves may do so through in-store donation points, which are collected by local charity representatives through Neighbourly, or by selecting the Neighbourly Foundation as their preferred charity in the United Kingdom. Every time a customer uses Sparks, M&S donates to the charity of their choice. Customers can also find waste-reducing options in-store, including frozen garlic bread made from unsold loaves and baguettes.
Andrew Clappen, Technical Director of M&S Food, stated, “Across M&S, we are extremely proud to have donated 50 million meals to wonderful causes across the United Kingdom. Colleagues of M&S are going above and beyond to ensure that any edible food surplus is distributed to those in greatest need. Over the past seven years, our retail locations have cultivated long-lasting relationships with local charities. As Christmas approaches, we will continue our efforts to ensure that no M&S Food is wasted.”
“Redistributing edible surplus food is however only one piece of the puzzle. We are committed to reducing food waste in-store, at the source, and in customer households. We’ve made progress by removing best before dates from fruit and vegetables, enhancing our forecasting system, and collaborating with our suppliers, but we still have work to do.”
M&S partnered with distribution platform Neighbourly in 2015, and during the Covid pandemic, accelerated the rollout of a new app that makes it easier for stores to donate excess food. The partnership is central to the retailer’s plan to combat food waste, in accordance with its Plan A goal of redistributing 100 percent of edible surplus by 2025. Currently, 89% is redistributed on average.
In addition to updating its food redistribution policies for suppliers, M&S has improved its forecasting system. Employees may also take home any edible surplus waste that cannot be donated to charities or local organizations.
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Bay20 Community Centre in London utilized M&S’s pasta donations to create pasta bakes for the local residents they serve.
Steve Butterworth, chief executive officer of Neighbourly, added, “As a result of the cost-of-living crisis, more families are relying on their local community charities for food and other services – and will continue to do so in the run-up to Christmas. Our most recent community survey indicates that support must keep up with demand. Since 2015, our partnership with M&S has made a significant impact on over 6,000 good causes in the Neighbourly network, and the additional ambient donation is already assisting struggling families across the United Kingdom.”
Poole Waste Not Want Not is one of the charities that M&S’s partnership with Neighbourly has benefited. The group, which is affiliated with the M&S Ferndown and Broadstone stores, receives edible food surpluses and customer donations via the in-store donation point. The’social supermarket’ provides food with dignity to those individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet. The organization provides beneficiaries with a variety of food options and has also opened a coffee shop to offer other services to help families in the long run, such as budgeting advice, training opportunities, and the promotion of social groups that reduce loneliness.
In addition to reducing food waste in-store and at the source, M&S is also helping customers live more sustainably. This year, the retailer removed expiration dates from over 300 products in an effort to reduce household food waste, while its Sparking Change challenge provides customers with advice on storing food to make it last longer, recipes for leftovers, and encourages them to explore plant-based proteins.