The Oxford Food Bank appeals for £70,000 worth of funding to keep it flourishing on seventh anniversary
Oxford mail & Oxford Times article April 30th, Georgina Campbell.
A FOOD bank that has served thousands of people in the county could be forced to scale back its operations if it is unable to raise vital funds.
For seven years the innovative Oxford Food Bank has served more than 60 charities throughout the county and is appealing for help to keep its work going.
Although founder Robin Aitken MBE said they would not close the food bank, if they were unable to raise £70,000 they would have to look at reducing its operations.
He said: “What is always overlooked is running costs, and funding is not readily available to keep your electricity going or help paying for a new delivery van.
“We would not go under, but we would not be able to keep going at the rate we are.”
Mr Aitken and David Cairns MBE formed the food bank in April 2009 after the pair were part of a committee looking at establishing a food bank in the county.
Mr Aitken said: “It was a system that just seemed obvious to us, and the reason why we are the only ones doing this is because it is an awful lot of work to begin with.
“But we thought, why shouldn’t we give people food who really need it, rather than see it get thrown away?
“We have grown and grown so much and although I do think we have a little room left to get a bit bigger, we need funds for all our running costs.
“It is the maintenance of our four vans, insurance to cover all our volunteers as well as the electricity and rent for the depot.
“In total I think it will be between £70,000 and £80,000.”
Every day volunteers collect food that would be otherwise thrown into landfill from supermarkets Sainsbury’s and Waitrose and wholesalers Roots of Oxford.
Now the food bank delivers to 60 charities in the city centre, Didcot, Bicester and Abingdon and has an army of 100 volunteers and two part-time paid workers.
From women’s refuges to homeless shelters, the charity donates over a tonne of food a day and supplies 2,000 meals a day.
Mr Aitken added: “At a time now where charities’ budgets are getting cut back, the need for our service is greater.
“For example, Donnington Doorstep, in Townsend Square, they were our first customers.
“A couple of years ago they were saving about £20,000 a year from our donations which is quite a big deal.
“£20,000 is enough to pay for a part-time employee.”
Having grown from strength to strength, the model is set to be replicated in London.
Mr Aitken said: “We started up a new food bank a few months ago and we are really excited about it.
“We hope it will be successful and start a chain of food banks of the same model across the capital.”
For more information and to donate visit: www.oxfordfoodbank.org