New report on food poverty and food surplus redistribution in Oxford
It can be hard to imagine that food poverty is an issue in a city like Oxford, but a new report based on first-hand accounts from front line community services in Oxford reveals the scale of the problem. Food poverty applies not only to not having enough food to eat, but also not having access to the right kinds of foods for a balanced diet, not having the skills to cook healthy meals, or not being able to afford fuel for cooking. The Feeding the Gaps report interviewed 30 organisations working to tackle these issues in Oxford, and found this ‘modern day malnutrition’ to be alarmingly prevalent. It also recounts the successes and challenges of the work being done to improve the sitution and identifies gaps in provision and potential next steps.
The report focuses in addition on food surplus in the city, and the ways in which unwanted food is being redistributed to charitable organisations, providing not only financial benefit – saving money on food bills, or allowing better quality meals to be provided – but also an environmental benefit from preventing edible food from ending up in landfill. In some cases, food provision of this kind allowed organisations to provide a proper meal to service users where none would have been provided before. The report highlights the multiple benefits arising from the sharing of cooking and eating, including sense of community, mental wellbeing and improved skills – all things that help to tackle some of the root causes of food poverty.
The Feeding the Gaps Forum event bringing together members of participant organisations as well as others from across the community, was held at the Restore Garden Cafe at the end of September. Delicious food was provided by Donnington Doorstep, made, of course, from high quality surplus fresh food from the Oxford Food Bank and Abundance Oxford! As well as presenting the findings of the report, break-out workshops sessions were held to discuss next steps and future work. Notes from these sessions, and an outline of followup actions in the pipeline, will be available soon. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The Feeding the Gaps research and report was made possible through support from CAG Oxfordshire, Oxfordshire County Council and Abundance Oxford.