M&S has distributed almost 20,000 free meals to community groups in Ballymena area

An M&S employee using the app.

SINCE 2015, M&S’s food redistribution programme has been connecting M&S stores with local community groups that use surplus food to feed those in need and more than 18,150 meals have been donated across the Ballymena area to date, a spokesperson for the retailer says.

M&S Ballymena is now looking for more charity partners to come forward to benefit from the scheme.

M&S recently announced the launch of a new employee app to easily notify charities when surplus food is available, helping to increase donations and stop food going to waste.

M&S is looking for charities and community groups across Ballymena to join its food redistribution scheme.

Since 2015, M&S has worked with its food redistribution partner Neighbourly to donate surplus food to local charities and community groups.

M&S and Neighbourly have been working to develop a new app for colleagues to revolutionise how they donate surplus food, the launch of which was fast-tracked to enable extra support during the Covid-19 crisis.

The app is now in all 585 M&S stores, enabling many of them to more than double their food redistribution rates.

Across the Ballymena area, 18,162 meals have been donated to local charities and community groups since the scheme began – with more than 5 million meals donated across the UK since 1st March alone.

By providing charities with updates in real-time, the new app enables them to collect even more meals to feed the people they support.

With the new system in place, M&S Ballymena is looking for more charity partners in an effort to ensure all surplus food reaches the plates of those who need it most.

Killian Connolly, Store Manager at M&S Ballymena, said: “We’re extremely proud of our food redistribution programme with Neighbourly that helps provide meals for those in need in our local community.

“Across our region there are lots of successful partnerships but with the launch of the app we’re able and eager to do more, so we are looking for charities to come forward to partner with our store to help us redistribute the surplus.”

Charity and community groups based in the area who would like to get involved in the food surplus programme or other charity initiatives are encouraged to email mandsfood@neighbourly.com to find out more.

Background on the app – The app records when M&S colleagues reduce food that is close to its Use-By or Best Before date, and then monitors if those products are sold at the tills. The app automatically notifies charity partners of anything unsold at the end of the day that can be collected from their local store. The technology also allows stores to donate products where the packaging is damaged, but the food inside is safe and good quality. The new app, which sends alerts via email and SMS, will significantly increase the notifications reaching the charities in a bid to increase the redistribution of surplus food and prevent food waste, the retailer says.

Neighbourly – Neighbourly is a platform that makes it easy for businesses to invest in thousands of local communities by donating volunteer time, money and surplus products, at scale. The public platform facilitates sustainable community investment, helping to put local impact at the centre of responsible business strategies, meaning good causes can get more of the essential funding, manpower and expertise they need to continue their incredible work, M&S say.

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