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Sainsbury’s & Argos launch shelf labelling scheme to encourage food bank donations

Sainsbury’s & Argos launch shelf labelling scheme to encourage food bank donations

Sainsbury’s and Argos have launched an on-shelf labelling scheme to encourage people to donate food and toys in the run up to Christmas, with a group of National Citizen Service (NCS) graduates playing a major role in its creation.

The ‘Help to Brighten a Million Christmases’ campaign hopes to encourage one million food and toy donations in stores across the UK, and expands on Sainsbury’s year-round food bank scheme. It will be run in partnership with thousands of charity partners across the UK, to distribute the items to local communities in time for Christmas.

Priority items include tinned meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, pasta sauces, pasta, instant coffee, tea, milk (UHT or powdered), and long life fruit juice, with new toys for children between the ages of 0-16 being collected at Argos.

The NCS graduates from Exeter invented on-shelf labels to highlight priority products for donation after spotting that customers were noticing the food bank donation bins after finishing their shop when it was too late to purchase products for donation. As part of a social action project organised through the NCS programme this summer, the 13 teenagers created a dedicated shelf edge label to remind customers during their shop. After successfully pitching the idea to store manager, Sarah Spurling, in Sainsbury’s Exeter, the labels were implemented in store and donations tripled as a result.

Sainsbury’s and Argos have worked closely with the teenagers to develop the idea and the labels will now be rolled out nationally to all Sainsbury’s stores across the UK. The labels will remain in these stores as a permanent fixture, with Argos customers able to donate toys in store until 16 December as part of the campaign.

Claudine Blamey, Sainsbury’s Group Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, said:

“We’re excited to be working together as a Group to expand Sainsbury’s food donation programme and to launch Argos’ toy donation programme. We are committed to making a positive difference in local communities and we hope our customers get on board to help brighten the lives of those less fortunate in the community

“It’s been brilliant to work with NCS graduates to permanently roll out their fantastic label initiative to all our stores and help reach our target of one million donations.” 

Mark Richardson, manager of Exeter foodbank, said:

“Teenagers these days often have an unfair reputation for being unengaged with the world around them, so it’s great to see young people being empowered by programmes like NCS to go out into their communities and make a difference.

“The results of this initiative go to show that sometimes you just need a new mind on an old problem, sometimes the most simple ideas have the greatest impact. 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.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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