A number of Oxford colleges have joined forces to assist with an Oxford Mutual Aid (OMA) project to make and deliver hot meals to the vulnerable in Oxfordshire.

University College announced they would be re-opening their kitchens on 1st May to help provide hot meals to restart the meals delivery service, in partnership with OMA, Dementia Oxfordshire, and AGE UK. The pilot scheme, named “The Kitchen Collective”, was launched by OMA following cuts to the home meals delivery service because of social distancing measures.

Since launching the scheme at the beginning of May, a small team of volunteers, including the University College Head and Sous Chef, have been working to continue to expand the programme. Between 6th May and 8th May, the number of meals provided as part of the initiative grew from 170 to 350 hot meals.

Image by Paul Moloney – University College

Jesus and Wadham College both announced recently that they would be supporting and up-scaling the project by providing University College, with further funding to continue meal production and to ensure the sustainability of the scheme. 

Angela Unsworth, University College Domestic Bursar, expressed in a statement to Cherwell that: “University College is pleased to be able to support vulnerable people in our wider community at such difficult times. We are grateful for the collaborative efforts of Wadham and Jesus Colleges in assisting us in doing so.”

Ruedi Baumann, Director of Accommodation, Catering & Conferences at Jesus College, explained the colleges’ decision to contribute to the project saying: “We were initially approached by OMA, who were asking colleges if they could support any of the wide range of projects they’re running to help vulnerable people during the pandemic. This initiative, instigated by Univ, is a wonderful way to collaborate with other colleges in order to support the community and one we are very happy to be a part of.”

France Lloyd, Domestic Bursar of Wadham College, further added that “Wadham was keen to help OMA after hearing about their pilot scheme. This initiative is a wonderful way to collaborate with other colleges in order to support our Oxford community.”

Meals are given to Dementia Oxfordshire and AGE UK home service users, including those suffering with dementia and the elderly, families who receive free school meals vouchers, and other food insecure people within the Oxfordshire community.

A spokesperson from OMA expressed the importance of the College’s support for the project, stating to Cherwell: “We are delighted to have had donations and other offers of help from many different colleges, including Christ Church, Wadham, St. Catherine’s, Jesus, Merton, St. Anne’s, and Univ.”

Pointing to the importance of the project, OMA said: “Given the uncertain times ahead, we must all work together to ensure that no one in our community is going hungry.

“The colleges play a unique role in city life, and it is wonderful to see such a clear and unequivocal show of support. Many Oxford Mutual Aid volunteers are students and post-grads, and we all think that the involvement of the colleges has helped cement the idea that we are all in this together.” 

Image Credits: Paul Moloney from University College