London, UK (13 July 2022)-Mars Food UK has announced that it will donate £38,000 of its apprenticeship levy to educational charity SOFEA. This money will allow SOFEA to extend its existing educational programme to offer five further apprenticeship opportunities for young people develop their careers in the food industry.
SOFEA, who is a network partner of food redistribution charity FareShare, are a not-for-profit organization that provide education, employability and wellbeing programmes for vulnerable young people.
The Milton Keynes and Oxford based organisation provide vulnerable young people with a safe, secure environment from which they participate in work experience, gain qualifications and develop strategies for managing their difficulties. The programme is run by qualified teachers, social workers, mental health support workers and behavioural change experts.
Through its partnership with FareShare, the programme also helps to tackle food insecurity and the disadvantage it causes while having a positive impact on the environment by reducing food waste.
The support from Mars Food UK – whose brands include Ben’s Original™ and Dolmio©– will allow the charity to extend its existing programme and offer further educational opportunities to its current cohort. The new apprenticeships will range from Levels 2 and 3 across a number of career paths in the food industry – such as Customer Service Practitioner, Supply Chain & Warehouse Operations, and HR.
Armen Topalian, Market Director Mars Food UK, said: “At Mars, the world we want tomorrow is inclusive. Over the last decade, Mars UK have felt the benefit from over 200 apprentices who have joined our business, and I am delighted that we’re able to help SOFEA in extending their programme. FareShare is an important partner for Mars Food and we have been working together for a number of years on food redistribution and our Dinnertime Matters programme. Building on our existing partnership, we are excited about this opportunity to support them in a new, innovative way. Together, I believe this programme will have a positive social impact – not only on the career paths of the individuals but by also helping to provide diverse talent which is critical to the success of the UK Food Industry. I encourage any other business looking for ways to use the apprenticeship levy to find others they can partner with.”
Richard Kennell, CEO SOFEA, said; “SOFEA employs a large number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to work in our FareShare food redistribution operation. These young people have often missed out on education and training opportunities. The support from Mars Food will enable them to confidently take the next steps on their journey and help SOFEA in its mission to enable people to transform their lives’.
Lindsay Boswell, CEO FareShare UK, said; “We are truly delighted that Mars Food are supporting our network by supporting opportunities for more young people to develop skills and confidence in the workplace – which is another way of delivering social value from surplus food which is FareShare’s mission. Our FareFutures programme is intended to help people to take their first steps into an exciting career in the food industry, and this funding will make a big difference.”
SOFEA’s new cohort of apprentices will begin their programme over the next few months. It will be a combination of educational studies and hands on experience which results in a formal qualification once completed.
The apprenticeship levy is a compulsory tax on employers in England with a payroll of over £3m a year to help fund the development and delivery of apprenticeships, with the aim of improving the quality and quantity of those available. From April 2019, levy-paying employers can transfer a maximum amount of 25% of their annual funds from their apprenticeship account to as many employers as they choose. Mars Food are choosing to donate theirs to SOFEA.