With an increasing number of people struggling to access food during the Covid-19 pandemic and many food banks forced to close, Community Action Groups (CAGs) across the county have stepped up in the fight against food insecurity.
CAGs running community fridges have provided several tonnes of free food to those in need during the Covid-19 pandemic. Previously, the fridges provided a space for residents to pick up free food that would otherwise have been thrown away by supermarkets and other food businesses. Following government guidelines to close or limit access to the public, many of the fridges have started delivering food parcels to those in need or self-isolating. A community fridge in Wantage made its 1000th delivery yesterday and has saved over 3 tonnes of surplus food since the lockdown began. Volunteers at the Botley Community Fridge in Oxford made over 300 deliveries in a single day, while fridges in Abingdon and Witney remain open with reduced hours.
Another Community Action Group – Harvest at Home – is fighting food insecurity ‘from the ground up’ by supporting people across the county to grow their own food. Their current focus is distributing ‘grow kits’ to households facing food insecurity, as well as those experiencing additional hardship due to Covid-19. Their first set of kits – containing seedlings, seed potatoes and more – went out to 36 households this week, and they plan to scale up their operation in the coming weeks. So that people don’t grow it alone, they’ve set up a Facebook group where people can ask for advice and share their growing journey. The group is keen to collaborate with a range of organisations and individuals, and anyone interested in getting involved should complete this google form. Find out more by visiting their website or finding them on Twitter and Facebook.
In order to celebrate the critical role of community food providers during the pandemic, Oxfordshire County Council, Public Health and Good Food Oxford have launched a campaign called ‘Oxfordshire Food Superstars’. The initiative aims to connect individuals, food providers and practitioners and share best practice. They’re also supporting people to cook, eat well, waste less and grow their own and have created a resource pack for families with tips, inspiration and recipes.