The environment in which we live is integral to our wellbeing. We believe that community engagement with public spaces, and with the wider issues of food provenance, biodiversity and climate change, is essential in sustaining a healthy and fair society. We fund both outreach and research projects that drive better environmental outcomes for Oxfordshire’s residents.
Good Food Oxford (GFO)
Good Food Oxford was launched in December 2013 in order to help support the existing work of many organisations in and around the city working to make our food system more nourishing, less wasteful and more sustainable. GFO catalyses new initiatives and collaborations, and encourages more joined-up thinking and policy around food issues. OCF became involved with GFO when one of our key donors and fundholders highlighted their work and wanted to support it. GFO has developed three focus areas: good food businesses, good food for all, and reducing food waste. The charity has published a food poverty report looking at the nature and drivers of food poverty locally, and exploring ways in which GFO might engage with residents in Oxford’s most deprived neighbourhoods, including Barton and Rose Hill, where the study was based.
The research paints a picture of families regularly concerned about lack of food due to low incomes, and that have chaotically structured eating habits and very little nutritional variety. GFO’s work also reveals how the very fact of living in a deprived area can exacerbate food poverty, with a very limited number of shops
selling quality food at affordable prices to families without access to their own transport. Community initiatives in response to the findings, such as cookery classes, communal lunches for older people and families, and sports and exercise clubs, are now being developed using existing networks working within Rose Hill, Barton and Blackbird Leys.
“ You don’t care where your food comes from or what goes into it, not when you’re in my position.”
Good Food Oxford research participant
The Fund for Sankalpa is a named fund hosted by OCF on behalf of a major donor, who wanted a cost-effective and efficient alternative to creating their own private trust. Sankalpa gave Good Food Oxford over £100,000 towards its core costs during 2015–16. This enabled project support for a 24-month period, and monitoring and evaluation of the project using a Community Impact Modelling Tool.
As we have evolved as a community foundation, we have come to see that the biggest challenge faced by most not-for-profits is getting people to understand that charities need funding for running costs to carry out their work. Charities are seeing the imperative to develop a more business-like mindset – and funders are becoming a lot more intelligent and strategic in their giving. We believe that collaborative philanthropy, where multiple funders come together to provide long-term support for a cause, is the best way to build greater stability in the community and voluntary sector.