Food bank expands operations to help people suffering from food poverty during cost-of-living crisis

  • Full report by ITV Meridian's Wesley Smith

Oxford Food Hub, formerly known as The Oxford Food Bank, has put an emergency cost-of-living plan in place to try and ensure more people across Oxfordshire have access to food.

The charity's volunteers collect surplus food from wholesalers, supermarkets and other suppliers.

It then distributes this food to more than 150 organisations, including local charities, homeless shelters and schools.

Last year, Oxford Food Hub redistributed over £1.5 million of food, supported entirely by donations.

Oxford Mutual Aid is one of the charities which relies on Oxford Food Hub

Oxford Mutual Aid, on the Cowley Road, was originally set-up to help during the pandemic.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 food parcels are packed there every week, with most of its supplies provided by the Oxford Food Hub.

Many of the people Oxford Mutual Aid supports live in the OX3 and OX4 postcode areas, which are in the top 10% most deprived areas in the UK.

Volunteer Muireann Speed said: "We're in a crisis. We've been in a crisis for two years and we're really seeing, over the past few months, how much worse it's been getting for people.

"They're not just choosing between whether or not to eat or to pay their bills, they can't afford to do either, so we're working really, really hard to build up our capacity and our winter resilience.

"But we're a community group, we have limited resources and we're really working very hard to ensure we don't have to turn people away, but we're worried about it coming to a point soon where we will."

Oxford Food Hub aims to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfill

Oxford Food Hub, based in North Hinksey, uses six vans to collect food from wholesalers which would otherwise go to waste.

Chair of Oxford Food Hub Dave Parkes said: "We're collecting roughly 1,000 to 1,200 kgs a day at the moment, and are looking to up that quite significantly, so we can service the charities that we're helping.

"We estimate something like three million meals a year. If we compare the environment and the social objectives we have we see the food waste going in the right direction, food poverty has been going in the wrong direction and still is."

Kate Farrington runs a social enterprise in Wantage and visits Oxford Food Hub weekly to collect food for free community cooking events for up to 40 people.

She said: "It's a lifeline really, I don't go anywhere else to collect food and they're always very welcoming.

"I just come in myself, I have a look around, sometimes I spend an hour and a half here just looking around at the food they've got."

The Food Hub has expanded to a second warehouse including a walk-in freezer, which means it can store more milk, bread, meat and fish.

Click here for more information about Oxford Food Hub.