Community support gets a boost to transition food services from lockdown

Published: Thursday, 24th September 2020

Community food services in Oxford will be able to bid for up to £5000 of funding to help them support people in hardship, the City Council has announced.

The £60,000 grant fund is being launched to boost food support, as more people are expected to need support as a result of the economic impact of coronavirus.

The City Council has provided emergency food support since the start of lockdown, targeted at the most vulnerable and those who could not leave their homes due to self-isolating. Now that restrictions have been lifted and the Council ended those services on 11 September.

Community food services can apply for the grant and find out more information online on the Covid emergency assistance grant page. 

City Council food support

The Council began working with Oxford Hub on the Oxford Together partnership to set up this support as soon as lockdown came in, using its own funding. All residents receiving Council food parcels have been given information about alternative support, and our staff are making phone contact to ensure that this is a smooth and supported transition. If we are unable to reach residents on the phone, our teams will make a welfare check in person. A one-off small grant is available to support individuals or households with the transition process. The Council has written to recipients of parcels to inform them of the details.

Over the time the food support has been operating, it has delivered over 10,000 food parcels to households across the city. This has been undertaken in partnership with SOFEA, (a local food charity that runs community larders), The Oxford Hub and many other volunteers and community groups.

  • the Council worked with a nutritionist from Brookes University to ensure food parcels are nutritionally balanced
  • food parcels have been tailored to household dietary needs, including halal supplies and food allergy specific boxes
  • Council food parcels have met additional needs like baby essentials
  • Council and ODS staff have ensured delivery to the door of up to 800 food parcels every week through the course of the crisis.

Grants for food support organisations

There is an ongoing issue with hardship that has increased as jobs have been affected by the pandemic, and food services provide vital support to households that are struggling. The grant fund can help organisations in a variety of ways, from covering a weekly food subscription, purchasing a new fridge/freezer, to improving their distribution systems:

  • the fund is open to organisations (e.g. community groups and support services) who are helping people with food and essential supplies, as a result of Covid
  • each organisation can bid for up to £5,000
  • applications assessed once a week
  • The government funding of just under £132,000, will be open until all has been allocated.

The City Council will put in place a dedicated officer to continue to support the transition and local food delivery system and liaison between partners.

“I’m really proud of everything our locality response hubs have achieved during lockdown. The food support was a huge project and an essential part of making sure no one was facing food poverty during lockdown.

“Now that lockdown is lifted we have worked closely with partners and secured funding from government to ensure a smooth transition as we stop providing this service and ensure long-term resilience in the food system in Oxford. We know there are great organisations who are already helping people and our teams will continue to work closely with these organisations.”

Councillor Marie Tidball, Cabinet Member for Supporting Local Communities