Two million meals in time for Christmas

Two million meals in time for Christmas

22 December 2017

John Blacker, Plan A champion at M&S Simply Food, Enfield hands over the donation to The Felix Project.

We’ve made great strides with our food redistribution programme this year and are really proud that our stores have now donated two million meals to those in need via  730 local food charities. London based charity, The Felix Project, collected the donation which was equivalent to our two millionth meal this week from John Blacker, our Plan A champion at M&S Simply Food in Enfield, who like many other colleagues goes the extra mile to make sure food surplus from their store goes to worthwhile causes in the local community.

Addressing food waste is a key area of focus for us and we have been working hard to reduce the amount of waste whilst ensuring that, where there is food surplus, we put it to the best possible use.

Our partnership with Neighbourly connects every store* to a least one charity, from soup kitchens for the homeless to community cafés supporting families with nutritious meals in a safe environment. Donating food surplus to those who can benefit from it is a crucial way for our stores to play a vital role in their local communities. 

Christmas time puts extra financial strain on many people across the country and addressing food poverty during the holidays is very important, so reaching the two million meal milestone before the end of the year is a positive step, but we are restless to do more. 

We are continuing to invest in our programme so we can ensure that more of our food surplus goes to worthwhile causes. Earlier this year, our stores started donating chilled food to charities and now over 270 M&S stores are making regular chilled donations. We’ve also introduced non-food product items such as household and personal hygiene products.

While progress has been made, there is always more we can do and challenges that we need to overcome. We are working closely with Neighbourly and charities to make sure we are providing the right support for the communities we operate in. One of the biggest challenges we have with donating chilled food is ensuring the right infrastructure is in place. It’s crucial that the charities we work with have the right equipment to pick up all they need to get nutritious meals to community members safely. For example, we have recently given grants of up to £750 each to food charities in the cities who are taking part in our community transformation programme so that they can increase the amount of food they can collect. 

We have had an overwhelming response from charities in these communities who believe that with a small amount of support from M&S they will be able to increase the amount of food they are able to collect, not just from M&S stores but others in their local community. Some such as the Salvation Army in Poplar will be purchasing a new freezer which will enable them to freeze more food and use the food more efficiently whilst the Rochdale Soup kitchen will be using their grant to support their volunteers, paying petrol money and other expenses and the Norwich Food hub will be putting their money towards a van with refrigeration capability. We will be tracking the impact of these grants over the first few weeks in January and hope to use our learnings here with our other stores. 

We are really proud of our redistribution programme, and love hearing how our contributions can make a difference to communities like Ellesmere Port not just at Christmas time, but throughout the year and we look forward to ensuring our programme thrives in 2018.


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