Students and staff at St Hilda’s have been making use of food left in college to support local food banks struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The project, led by student Kamran Sharifi, aims to make use of the food left by students over the vacation in the college kitchens.

Aided by fellow students Toto Gill and James Cockayne, the group set up a spreadsheet and posted it to the St Hilda’s JCR page, allowing those not in college to indicate their preference for whether their food was used in the scheme. Head Porter Peter Marston provided his van to distribute the food.

Kamran Sharifi told Cherwell how the scheme came about: “The other day I had the good fortune of chancing upon three Cornettos and some cranberry juice whilst raiding the SCR pantry fridge, and having rooted around college for a bit it’s obvious that there’s loads of food left here.

“Sadly, it’s likely that most people won’t be back at St. Hilda’s for a long time, so a lot of this food will go off and go to waste. Following on from the amazing charity work that we’ve already done as a college during this corona period (led by Holly Jackson, Jane Bennett and Izzy Davies), we’ve got another opportunity to reduce food waste and help those in need in the community.”

James Cockayne added: “My role in the operation was fairly simple. I helped go through kitchens and divide food into things we could donate and stuff we couldn’t, and then prepare it to be taken to be donated.

“Throughout my time in Oxford, and indeed even more so during this period of pandemic, the privilege of being able to study here has become very apparent. As students, we live in comfortable gated communities in a city with huge wealth inequality. I think the motivation for this food donation was to try our best to do our bit for those who live in Oxford who are struggling at this time, and redirect what would have been waste into something more positive.”

St Hilda’s staff have also been helping the community. A spokesperson said: “At St Hilda’s, we are happy to have been able to help with local efforts to support the NHS in a small but practical way. Our Domestic Bursar and members of her team have been busy gathering protective aprons and gloves from our own stores and collecting donations from colleges across the University, all of which went to the John Radcliffe Hospital to help the NHS workers there.

“We are also very proud of our students’ efforts to work with charities to help the local community. They have fundraised for Oxford Food Bank and exceeded their target by raising over £600.”

JCR president Georgina Findlay said: “It’s been an exceptional year for charitable work and fundraising at St Hilda’s and it’s so heartening to see these efforts continuing to help the wider Oxford community during this difficult period. St Hilda’s has demonstrated a spirit of true altruism to support the community of the city we all love and appreciate so much.”