Published: Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Having pledged to ensure no-one goes hungry during the lockdown, the City Council has been working with Oxford Brookes University to ensure emergency food supplies also provide a healthy diet.

Oxford City Council, working with a range of partners, community groups and volunteers, is running a huge operation from Rose Hill Community Centre, now serving as a depot for food parcel distribution.  Each week, Oxford Direct Services drivers collect over 25 tonnes of food to supply emergency food parcels and the Community Larders across Oxford. Last week, 475 food parcels, including fresh fruit and vegetables, were distributed across the city.

It was recognised that emergency food needed to be available to those who need it, but it was also important that it provided a balanced diet, with parcels adjusted to meet different dietary needs. 

“Oxford Brookes University was asked to support the council by providing expertise on nutritional science and also practical advice on meal planning, food types and how to adjust for different cultural and dietary needs.

“We have helped to describe how a food parcel can be built to provide the right balance of food groups.  This includes various staples which provide proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins, as well as important fresh fruit and vegetables.

“This has led to some practical, easy to use tools for staff at the depot so that they can quickly work with the food supplies available and an individual’s needs.”

Isabel Butler, Centre Manager of the Oxford Brookes Centre for Nutrition and Health

“We have worked with our main supplier, SOFEA, so that they can supply parcels which have the best balance of items possible. 

“Parcels packed at SOFEA’s depot in Didcot then come to Rose Hill where staff use the toolkit provided by Oxford Brookes to further tailor them specific to the individual’s need. 

“That may be supplying gluten-free products for someone with an allergy, removing too much sugary food and exchanging for higher proteins and carbohydrates for someone with diabetes, or making a parcel suitable for someone with a halal diet.”

Carly Roalf, Oxford City Council’s manager of the Rose Hill food depot effort

“We pledged that no-one should go hungry during the lockdown restrictions and we are still here to help anyone who needs support. 

“I’m pleased that we are also going the extra mile and taking steps to ensure the emergency food parcels we deliver are healthy and where appropriate tailored to individual needs in order to help residents stay well during this stressful time. 

“I am grateful to Oxford Brookes University and all our partners who are helping us to deliver this huge operation and to ensure that the food we provide is nutritionally valuable.”

Councillor Linda Smith, Deputy Leader of Oxford City Council

Anyone needing support – whether that is for an emergency food parcel, help with collecting shopping, or other issues -  can contact Oxford City Council on 01865 249 811 or submit an online form.

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