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Oxford Food Bank

We help charities and social organisations to:

  • Access a wide range of good quality fruit, vegetables, bakery and dairy
  • Save money and create nutritious meals for their clients
  • Educate about cooking and nutrition
  • Lift people out of food poverty
  • Create a community around sharing, cooking and eating

The Oxford Food Bank was founded by David Cairns and Robin Aitken in 2009. Concerned by the level of food waste in the supply chain they came up with the idea of a simple logistics operation that would match up surplus food with charities that could make use of it.

The manager of the first store they contacted (Sainsbury’s in Kidlington) greeted them with the words, “I’ve been waiting for someone like you to do this as the waste is appalling”. They started the next day, loading their own cars with food that had been destined for landfill, drove it to a local Park & Ride and redistributed it into 5 boxes; these they delivered to Emmaus, Steppin’ Stones, Donnington Doorstep, One Foot Forward, and The Mill. At that point they were operating 3 hours per day, collecting about £500 of food per week (£26,000 per year).

Today we operate 7 hours per day, 7 days a week with a team of 100+ volunteers and 3 members of staff. We pick up an estimated 6-8 tonnes of food each week, which we deliver to over 80 charities in Oxford and surrounding towns, supplementing 2,000+ meals per day and saving the charities a substantial amount on their budgets. Our running costs are about £100k per year with the estimated value of the food delivered around £1.6m. For every £1 we receive in donations we can deliver about £20 worth of fruit, vegetables, dairy and bakery: an impressive benefit-cost ratio.

David and Robin were named MBEs for their services to vulnerable people in June 2014. In 2018 Oxford Food Bank received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award given to volunteer-led charities.

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