A CHARITY that has saved £7.5 million worth of food from ending up in the bin is celebrating a decade of reducing unnecessary waste in the city.

Oxford Food Bank began in 2009 when, concerned by the level of surplus food in the supply chain, founders Robin Aitkens and David Cairns decided to try to match up excess fruit, vegetables, bakery and dairy products with charities that could make use of them.

A decade on and the organisation now has five vans, two full-time staff, 120 volunteers, and provides food to more than 100 charities, seven days a week.

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Though the work never stops at Oxford Food Bank, one of the busiest times of year is the festive season.

Last year donations were delivered right up until closing time on Christmas Eve, with supplies distributed by the group going towards Oxford Christmas Lunch, a three-course feast attended by 500 people on Christmas Day.

Helping put the charity's 10 years of hard work into numbers, a group from Unipart Logistics in Cowley recently worked at the food bank’s Botley site to weigh how much surplus food from local wholesalers and supermarkets was being redistributed free of charge.

Oxford Mail:

Over seven days Oxford Food Bank received 7.4 tonnes of surplus food with a retail value of nearly £20,000.

Manager Cathy Howard said: “We thought it would also be interesting to calculate some statistics about what we’ve achieved over the past ten years.

“We estimate that we have saved around £7.5 million worth of food going to landfill – that’s around 3,000 tons.”

When the work was done last month, she added: "This is hard evidence for the incredible achievements of our volunteers, who work tirelessly seven days a week to keep quality, unsold fresh food out of landfill.”

Operations coordinator Marcelo Pollack said: “We’re such a busy charity, day in day out, that we would never have found the time to do this ourselves."

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To mark the decade milestone Oxford Food Bank held a party at neighbouring micro-brewery Tap Social on Sunday, with catering from social enterprise Waste2Taste, as well as holding a 10K sponsored walk.

The circular route, which started and ended at the group's Curtis Industrial Estate site, took walkers up Harcourt Hill.

Administrator Emma Tinker said it was 'so nice' to gather everyone together, adding: "There were around 40 of us on the walk and it was lovely to have the chance to chat.

"It's not often we get an opportunity to step back and reflect on what we have achieved."

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Oxford Food Bank was awarded a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service – described as the 'MBE for volunteers' – last year in recognition of its contribution to the county. It was officially presented by Lord Lieutenant Tim Stevenson, the monarch's representative in the county in October 2018.

For more information or to donate visit oxfordfoodbank.org.