Corporate Responsibility: Sainsbury's gives £500,000 to sports trust

Alexander Ferguson

Sainsbury's is to donate £500,000 to a sports charity in a new drive to increase the amount of exercise done in UK schools.

Youth Sport Trust, which supports the development of young people through sport and physical education, says a million children could benefit from Sainsbury's donation. Sportsmatch, the grassroots sports development charity, has also donated £50,000.

The Youth Sport Trust said that Sainsbury's contribution will be used to equip an additional 20,000 school teachers to deliver PE.

Steve Grainger, the trust's chief executive, said: "High quality PE and sport play a vital role in the development of young people. The Youth Sport Trust is delighted to be working with Sainsbury's to encourage more young people to be more active."

Some 28,000 schools have already signed up to the scheme.

As well as its original donation, Sainsbury's Active Kids programme will donate to the trust's 'Top' programmes, which focus on training primary school teachers with basic sports skills as well as sports-specific training for seven to 11-year-olds.

For every £10 spent at Sainsbury's, customers will receive one voucher, as well as an extra one for every £5 spent on fruit and vegetables. Marilyn Calking, a spokeswoman for Sainsbury's, said 250 million vouchers had already been distributed. "We're offering vouchers across the shop at Sainsbury's but we are encouraging healthy eating by offering more for extra fruit and vegetables," she said. Money spent on tobacco and other kiosk items such as lottery tickets will not be part of the voucher scheme.

The offer finishes at the end of the month.

Calking added that the company's strategy of providing the vouchers had been supported by the Food Standards Agency.

Sainsbury's also said that points donated from shoppers' Nectar cards will be turned into vouchers eligible for redemption by any school the donor chooses. In addition to this, Sainsbury's Bank, the supermarket's banking arm, will give 50 Active Kids vouchers to customers who successfully apply for selected banking products.

Sainsbury's subsidiaries, Bell's, JB Beaumont and Jackson's stores, are also participating in the programme.

MONITOR

Steve Hilton, founding partner, Good Business

It's a brave brand that steps into the spotlight hand-in-hand with the Youth Sport Trust after the reputation-destroying YST/Cadbury partnership that saw both parties slammed for incentivising kids to buy confectionery in exchange for sports kit.

Sainsbury's and the trust seem to have learned the lessons of that fiasco with this sensible programme.

At the margin, the Sainsbury's funding should make a difference: PE budgets are under pressure. But the problem with schemes of this type is that the resources provided are paltry in the context of the public sector's needs. A more effective approach is for brands to use their marketing savvy to change underlying attitudes; so the highlight of this programme is the incentive to buy healthy food. Apart from that, this feels like a worthy initiative that's unlikely to deliver dramatic benefits.

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