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Food bank prepared for Christmas rush

A CHARITY has launched its Christmas push to get food to thousands of Oxford’s most vulnerable people.

Volunteers at the Oxford Food Bank are working day and night to deliver supplies for more than 3,000 meals a week over what they say is becoming an increasingly busy festive period.

Yesterday the team picked up another van-load of supplies from Sainsbury’s supermarket in Kidlington, which will be sorted and handed out in the city.

The charity, based in Lamarsh Road, Botley, has given out a total of £250,000 worth of fruit, vegetables and baked goods since it launched in October 2009.

Now organisers are calling for volunteers to join the ranks to make sure enough food is delivered this Christmas.

Food bank co-director Robin Aitken said: “This Christmas is far busier than last year’s because we have grown so much.

“We are ensuring that plenty of food is being delivered to people who need it across Oxfordshire. Our volunteers are working extremely hard, and we are always delighted to welcome new people.”

The food, which is past its sell-by date but within its use-by date, also comes from the Sainsbury’s store in Oxford’s Westgate Centre, and Bicester-based fruit and veg supplier Fresh Direct.

Among the 20 charities to benefit from food boxes are mental health centre The Mill, in Cowley Road, homeless centre The Gatehouse, Donnington Doorstep, Lucy Faithfull House and the Oxford Soup Kitchen.

The charity now has a 30-strong team of volunteers, including a number of students, and 12 volunteer van drivers.

Sainsbury’s Kidlington manager Richard Hopkins said: “Although it’s at the end of its useful life for us, this perfectly good food still has a customer life.

“It is absolutely brilliant that the produce can be delivered to people in Oxford who really need it, and we are delighted to continue supporting the charity.”

The Oxford Food Bank now hands out £5,000 worth of food each week, up from £400 when it started.

Thanks to a surge in donations, the charity now has the funds to buy its own van.

Co-director David Cairns added: “It has been a great achievement.

“We only started fundraising in earnest back in the summer and people have been very generous.

“Buying the van means we can stop paying lease hire charges, which have been running at about £700 a month and is our biggest outgoing.”

By Dan Hearn, Oxford Times

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To get involved then contact us via our contact us page or call us now on one of these numbers: Robin @ 07813-961-841 or David @ 07884-318-576.