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Feeding the Food Bank!

Oxford Mail article – Thursday 16th June 2016.

Georgina Campbell.

Sandra, Miranda and THAT CAKE wait in the wings...

Sandra, Miranda and THAT CAKE wait in the wings…

Charities and organisations rally together to thank Oxford Food Bank

Food and gratitude were the ingredients of a celebratory banquet laid on for the Oxford Food Bank this week.
Charities and organisations, which are supported by the Food Bank’s deliveries, rallied together to lay on a thank you spread at the Town Hall on Monday.

Seven years ago David Cairns MBE and Robin Aitken MBE set up the innovative charity, which re-distributes would-be wasted produce to charities across the county.

David Cairns MBE with Oxford Foodbank volunteers

David Cairns MBE with Oxford Foodbank volunteers

Mr Cairns said the evening had “humbled” him. He added: “This has all been done for us – we haven’t had to lift a finger. But we do still need to bring some stability in terms of funding what we do. In many ways the people of Oxford are the ones that have kept our doors open and we hope they will continue to do so.”

Now the charity, which boasts 120 volunteers, supports more than 60 charities every week, having taken on five more organisations this year already.

Having supported the Food Bank since it was just an idea on paper, Christine McDermott decided to organise the thank you evening.

She said: “Food is a social glue which brings society together – and Oxford Food Bank is a testament to this. I saw the amount of work they put in there and we receive so much from them we can only a offer a little something back in return. It is also another way for volunteers to meet each other because they all work in shifts, so this is also a fantastic networking opportunity for everyone. There is now a change in the way we are addressing food waste, and we have some fantastically creative people here who are trying to make a difference and share food with people who need it, which otherwise would have been thrown away.”

Ms McDermott said seven kitchens had been used to prepare the feast for the evening.

Christine McDermott, banquet organiser

Christine McDermott, banquet organiser

Des O’Sullivan, who has volunteered at the Food Bank since September, said it had been a fantastic treat. He said: “We all feel very complimented that people value what we are doing because we value what we are doing. Everybody complains there is no good news in the paper – this is a really good news story.”

But underlying the celebratory atmosphere was a deep concern about tackling the overwhelming amount of poverty in the city.

Kate Hitchman, who volunteered at the Food Bank on Saturday mornings, said: “Everyone assumes Oxford is a wealthy and affluent city because of the University and historic prestige. But that is not the case, there is a real issue with food distribution and food waste, and these amazing organisations are just hitting the tip of a very big iceberg. Hopefully by coming together we can brainstorm ideas about how we can expand the work we are doing.”