Reducing Oxfordshire’s Food Waste: Guest Post

Apr 25, 2022

The UK produces the highest amount of food waste in Europe – around 9.5 million tonnes a year, even though 8.4 million people live in food poverty. As the cost-of-living crisis bites, there’s more reason than ever to tackle this.

Sara Strong, volunteer at Oxford Food Hub, kindly wrote this little piece about our handling of food waste.

Rectory Farm PYO in Stanton St John is one of a number of businesses that supply the Oxford Food Hub, an innovative local charity, to get perishables that would once have gone to waste turned into meals on people’s plates. Set up in 2009, it was designed to bridge the gap between charities and frontline food banks and the many large food retailers and distributors in the county.

In the case of Rectory Farm, that means a volunteer visiting once a week to collect produce that’s nearing its use-by or best-before date, and either taking it to the Hub’s depot in Botley, or, if it needs to be cooked quickly, to volunteers at Barton Community Centre. The Hub then swiftly redistributes it to some of the 150 charities it supplies in Oxfordshire, ranging from The Gatehouse, which supports homeless people, to Waste2Taste, a community café in Cowley.

Rectory Farm also has a special relationship with Oxford Christmas Lunch, a sit-down meal on Christmas Day served to anyone who wants to come. Held in Oxford’s largest conference venue, it regularly attracts up to 600 guests and is all cooked with food that would otherwise have gone to waste, or – in the case of several tonnes of Rectory Farm’s cosmetically-blemished potatoes – for animal fodder.

So if you’ve ever wondered what happens to the surplus strawberries, potatoes and other foodstuffs that don’t get sold, don’t worry, they will still get eaten – and all without travelling out of the county in which they were grown.

Sara Strong, Oxford Food Hub volunteer