The Covid-19 outbreak has resulted in an increased demand for foodbanks and other food access services. The Trussell Trust reports an 81% increase for emergency food parcels from food banks in its network during the last two weeks of March 2020. People who were already struggling to access food before the lockdown found themselves cut off from service providers, and with loss of incomes more people were suddenly unable to afford enough food.
Across Oxfordshire, the response from our community food providers has been astonishing, and now a range of services from food parcel to hot meal deliveries are well-established.
Food Parcel Providers
Foodbanks and other community food access services have responded by rapidly expanding their operations and distributing more food to more people. Demonstrating outstanding resilience and flexibility, most food banks, community larders and fridges have continued to operate or reopened. They have adapted their practices by introducing social distancing and strict hygiene and safety measures for volunteers as well as offering delivery to households.
Several community fridges have moved to deliveries as well, and the network of community larders operated by SOFEA in collaboration with local partners has been expanded to more than 25 locations across the county.
Good Food Oxford has been working with the Oxfordshire County Council to list all food access services in the county on the Oxfordshire Food Access Services Map. The map has had over 20,000 new views since March, showing the huge need for these services.
For those receiving random things in their food parcels and not sure what to do with them, the Good Food Cooking Toolkit is a handy guide to cooking without recipes – starting with what is available rather than needing to buy a list of ingredients.
With the initial Covid-19 response focused mostly on food parcels, new initiatives have now emerged that are looking at how cooked meals can be provided to those in need.
The Grand Iftar
The Grand Iftar celebrates and connects Oxford’s diverse communities, people of faith and no faith during Ramadan over an Iftar (breaking of the fast) meal. This year, because of the Covid-19 lockdown, instead of a communal Iftar meal volunteers will organise and deliver at least 1,500 delicious meals to people across Oxford on Friday May 15th. Read more or share on social media
The Grand Iftar is a community project organised by the Oxford Homeless Project in collaboration with volunteers from Oxford Mutual Aid, Oxford Community Action, BAPS Oxford and Oxford City Council to support as many people as possible.
OX4 Free Food Crew
How can locked down community cafes continue to rescue surplus food from supermarkets while also helping isolated, vulnerable and food insecure people stuck in their homes? The OX4 Free Food Crew found a great solution, providing free cooked meals for those who need it, delivered by volunteers.
The project is a partnership between Waste2Taste, Flo’s – The Place in the Park, Ark-T Centre, SOFEA and The Oxford Hub. Oxford Together volunteers support with collection and delivery of food and other essentials.
Individuals can request food and professionals can refer those in need through a signup form. Meals are delivered at lunchtime on Tuesday and Thursday from The Venue on Barns Road and on Wednesday and Saturday from Flo’s – The Place in the Park. Read more
Oxford Mutual Aid – Feeding the Vulnerable
The grassroots community action network Oxford Mutual Aid have recently launched their Kitchen Collective Programme which currently provides reheatable meals to at risk, isolated and / or food insecure families around Oxfordshire. Partnering with a number of organisations including Oxford’s Colleges, AGE UK, Dementia Oxfordshire and Oxford’s Homeless Project, they are delivering around 500 meals per week.
The collaboration has found a productive way of putting to good use the commercial college kitchens with excellent food hygiene ratings as well as the skilled, qualified and committed staff who are volunteering their expertise and their time. Read more here and here.
If you can support the initiative with more commercial kitchen space, refrigerated vans and cooler boxes, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Do get in touch if you know of a project that you think we should add to this list.
This post was updated with additional info on 22nd May 2020.