Students’ idea to label priority items needed sees donations TREBLE

Students who made stickers to indicate the supermarket items food banks are most in need of will see their idea rolled out nationwide after a trial saw donations TREBLE

  • A group of 16-17-year-old students came up with idea to increase food donations
  • Appealed to local Sainsbury’s in Exeter to put stickers on most-needed foods 
  • Graduates on government’s National Citizen Service programme from Exeter
  • After donations tripled, the scheme will now be rolled out nationwide 

A simple idea to label supermarket groceries that are most needed by foodbanks has been rolled out nationwide, after students in Exeter came up with the clever move. 

The group of 13 National Citizen Service (NCS) graduates will this week see their simple idea to increase donations hit Sainsbury’s stores nationwide.

The teenagers came up with the idea this summer, after speaking to their local food bank during the social action phase of the national youth programme for 16 and 17-year-olds.

And following a local trial run by the supermarket giant, the Exeter Food Bank reported a 300 per cent increase in donations.

A group of National Citizen Service (NCS) graduates from Exeter will this week see their simple idea to label foods most needed by food banks rolled out to Sainsbury’s stores nationwide. Pictured, left to right: Abdelkader Jemal Awol, Matthew Turner, Amber Broad, Isabel Clarkson, Callum Pardoe and Rhys Johnson

The group learned that shoppers often didn’t know they could donate in supermarkets or were donating the same items, making it difficult for the food bank to offer enough variety to those in need.


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Student Amber Broad admitted: ‘We spoke to our local food bank and they said they’d get things like beans all the time’.

Mark Richardson, Food Bank Manager in Exeter, added: ‘Every food bank is in the same situation. We get donations we don’t need and people don’t realise what we do need’. 

The teenagers came up with the idea this summer, after speaking to their local food bank during the social action phase of the national youth programme for 16 and 17-year-olds

The branded stickers are placed next to foods most needed by local banks, and read ‘priority items for local charities’, advising customers that the donation point is at the checkout

To combat the problem, the NCS grads came up with a simple idea to put a sticker next to ‘priority items for local charities’, advising customers that the donation point is at the checkout.

The top 15 items most in demand at Britain’s food banks 

1. Tinned meat

2. Tinned fish

3. Tinned vegetables

4. Tinned fruit

5. Tinned soup

6. Tinned baked beans

7. Pasta sauces

8. Pasta

9. Rice

10. Cooking oil

11. Jams, spreads, preserves

12. Instant coffee

13. Tea

14. Milk (UHT or powdered)

15. Fruit juice (long life) 

Upon purchasing the items, customers simply place them in the donation box located after the till. 

The manager of their local Sainsbury’s agreed to trial the labels, which in two weeks led to donations tripling to the Exeter food bank.

‘We noticed that donations trebled within weeks so to have this nationwide would be incredibly helpful’, Mark Richardson added. 

The group was then invited to head office of Britain’s second biggest supermarket where they worked alongside specialist teams to develop the stickers in preparation for national roll out.

The labels will appear alongside the top 15 priority food bank items throughout the year and will be featured in Sainsbury’s and Argos’ festive food and toy donation drive: ‘Help Brighten a Million Christmases’.

Speaking about the campaign, student Isabel Clarkson added: ‘The fact that such a simple idea has gone from local to national has shocked us all. 

‘We just hope we can have as much of an impact nationwide’.

Student Amber Broad (pictured with Rhys Johnson) said that their local food bank was getting baked beans constantly but is in dire need of other necessities  

Sainsbury’s Deputy Manager Clare Gubb says she has seen a sharp increase in donations since participating in the programme

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