Rose Hill Community Larder has received a prestigious award from the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in recognition of its “great and valuable service to the community”.

Amanda Ponsonby visited the larder last week to present project volunteers with a framed certificate.

The award expresses the appreciation of the residents of Rose Hill and Oxfordshire for its contribution to enhancing the life of the community.

Mrs Ponsonby first visited the larder before Christmas.

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It is an initiative run by Magdalen College School and SOFEA, a charity that reduces food waste by taking excess food from supermarkets and offering it to those in need through local charities. It was established by MCS alumnus Richard Kennel.

Anne Kenyon, the school’s community service organisation co-ordinator, said: “We were honoured to receive another visit and an award from Mrs Amanda Ponsonby, herself a volunteer at her local community larder in Chipping Norton.

“She is a passionate supporter of our three aims – reducing food waste, making good food affordable and bringing local communities together.”

The project, which was initially based in Rose Hill Primary School, has been available every week since it began in November 2019.

At first it offered a community hub where MCS pupils ran activities for children while parents could have a coffee and chat.

They also produced a weekly recipe based around the food they were likely to get and even had plans for a cookbook.

When the first lockdown was announced the larder experienced a surge in attendance and had to move to Rose Hill Community Centre as large numbers of members of the public could not move through the school.

During the first lockdown, demand for the larder doubled with over 100 families a week making use of it.

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It equated to over 1,500 hours of volunteer time from parents and staff members and the delivery of approximately 3,000 boxes of food.

At this point it had paired up with SOFEA to provide food boxes to homes in the OX4 postcode which were initially free and later offered on a paid membership model.

Oxford City Council is involved in the project and has provided a grant to cover the rent at the community centre as well as helping vulnerable members with subsidised membership.

Although there has been a reduction in numbers since the height of the lockdowns, attendance at the larder has grown considerably in recent months, with 80 plus regular members visiting each week.

For now it continues to be run by parents and staff volunteers but it is hoped pupils will return in May.

The larder is open on Tuesdays from 2.15pm – 4 pm at Rose Hill Community Centre. It costs £14 a month for a single membership (equates to £3.50 a week) or £28 for a family. Everyone is welcome.