FOOD bills for some families in Oxford doubled during the national lockdown.

According to research by an Oxford Brookes academic, the rise in food costs was largely down to an increase in the amount of food required when schools closed.

Changes in routine also meant people were not able to shop around at different supermarkets to find cheaper alternatives.

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Dr Irmak Karademir Hazir, a senior lecturer in sociology at Oxford Brookes University, who researches food practices amongst families with small children, met with ten local families in Oxford to discuss how their food practices changed when lockdown restrictions were imposed.

She said: “Families with young children are a largely invisible and overlooked group whose vulnerability was – and continues to be – overlooked.

“When strict regulations are in place, getting to the supermarket and shopping alone is very challenging for this group. Online shopping slots were virtually impossible to obtain and these families do not qualify for priority treatment.

“Feeding the family in Covid times has come at a huge cost, not just for those in real poverty, but for many working families with limited resources.”

The focus group is part of a British Academy funded project, ‘Understanding feeding practices: A longitudinal study of feeding, eating and foodwork in families with young children’.

Research by the Food Foundation, a charity working to ensure everyone has access to affordable, healthy meals, said that adults with young children faced more insecurity than the general population because of the pandemic.

21 per cent of households with children under the age of 18 experienced food insecurity in the first two weeks of lockdown in March 2020.

One anonymous participant in the focus group said: “Lockdown was a huge jolt, we really struggled financially.

“It was hard to get enough and make it last.

“I had to shop just from one supermarket and missed my usual bargains from others.”

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Dr Hazir’s research also revealed that during the lockdown period the burden of food shopping, producing meals and cleaning up has fallen disproportionately on women, regardless of their socio-economic status.

She added: “The pandemic and perceptions of risk, together with what is expected of a ‘good’ mother and a ‘good’ citizen’, have added to the existing pressures felt by women.

“Both the pandemic and consequent restrictions seem to have contributed to reinforcing stereotypical gender roles in the context of food and feeding.”

One woman taking part in the research group said: “My partner carried on as normal.

“But for me, I had all the kids at home, with homework, homeschooling.”