I’m posting some of the best work from this year’s LSE activism students this week. Here’s Jessica Louise (email@example.com if you want to see her full campaign strategy and/or offer her a job) introducing her campaign.
As an active campaigner for Trussell Trust, one of the UK’s leading charities supporting food banks throughout the nation, I am constantly amazed by the levels of support pledged from corporate sponsors and donors. In a previous blog, I’ve written about Trussell Trust’s work with Tesco, and the significance of Tesco’s Food Collections in stores around the country.
Here, I want to write about a campaign stunt by Kellogg’s, who are working together with Trussell Trust and other leading food charities to tackle the growing problem of food deserts in the UK.
What is a food desert?
They’re not literal deserts, but they may as well be. Food deserts are areas, often urban, where there is limited access to nutritional and affordable food. This could be for a range of reasons: high poverty levels, bad public transport links, or just simply a lack of affordable supermarkets in the area. It’s not that there’s no food in these areas – it’s just that the only options are small convenience stores which are more expensive, or takeout places (basically just your local chippy or kebab shop).
With rising living costs, people are experiencing reduced budgets, and for some people in food deserts, the cost of the bus fare to the supermarket could be the cost of a meal.
Food deserts are a massive problem in the US, with research suggesting a high correlation between food deserts and obesity (as the lovely cartoon below shows), but they’re a growing problem in the UK too, with over 10 million people living in one.
Credit: Spoon University.
What’s the solution?
There’s no one simple solution. Getting supermarkets to build in underserved areas, and improving nutrition education are just some of the things that can be done.
So, what is being done?
A campaign has been launched by a coalition headed by Trussell Trust, which aims to encourage supermarkets to build in food deserts in the UK. In various locations, pop-up supermarkets have appeared which aim to raise awareness about the importance of accessible and healthy food. A petition has been launched, asking the government to take action.
Support from Kellogg’s!
Corporate support can make all the difference to a campaign like this. Big, multi-million corporations hold a lot of power in raising awareness and calling the public to action. Last month, it was announced that Kellogg’s would be joining the coalition and recently a key part of their campaign was rolled out. They’ve changed their Cornflakes packaging, and the famous Cornflakes chicken is now in a desert! This is a great tactic, a marketing stunt that not only puts Kellogg’s in the headlines and boosts sales for them, but also reaches millions of households.
The effect is eye-catching. Enter any cereal aisle in any supermarket and you notice it immediately. Scan the QR code, and you’re taken to the government petition which has already reached 10,000 signatures.
So will it work?
Time will tell, but as people become more aware of the issue, pressure on the government to act builds. Offering tax breaks to large supermarkets who choose to build in food deserts is a good incentive to encourage them into these areas. Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s – the largest supermarkets in the UK – are probably the most likely candidates to respond to the campaign. Whatever ends up happening, Kellogg’s will go down in history as being the first cereal company to put a chicken in a desert. We can only hope the chicken will survive by accessing affordable, healthy, chicken feed 😊.