The food charity ‘Because We Can’ is running a food bank collection competition between Oxford and Cambridge University, ending on November 30th. Under the title ‘Buy One, Give One Free!’ (BOGOF), they are encouraging students to buy and donate items needed by local food banks.
The BOGOF campaign is based on a simple principle: whenever students buy an item of food for their own use, they are invited to also buy an item needed by their local food bank. The items are collected by each college. The total sum collected by each Oxbridge college, and by Oxford and Cambridge Universities as a whole, are updated every other day on social media.
As of November 26th, Cambridge is ahead of Oxford by just over 100 items, having collected a total of 1334 items. In terms of colleges, Somerville college – who recently also scored first in a ranking on college climate policy – is in the lead in Oxford, with a total of 268 items collected. This friendly competition between colleges and between Oxford and Cambridge is hoped to spur action towards giving more.
Because We Can (BWC) ran the BOGOF campaign for the first time last year. A total of 23 colleges took part across Oxford and Cambridge, and over 10,000 items were collected. In Oxford, Keble collected the most items, and in Cambridge, Clare College topped the competition. This year, 36 colleges will be taking place, and the organisers hope to expand their target. In a facebook post, the organisers write: “#BOGOF2 Double The Food”.
BWC is composed of an over 40 head student volunteer team of college reps across Oxbridge JCRS, who commit around 18 hours a week during the competition. BWC’s founder is Oxford alumni Josh Tulloch, former JCR President, who has experienced homelessness and food insecurity. According to a BWC press release, these personal hardships helped spur Josh into action.
Since 2015, food bank usage in the UK has increased by 123%, with 2.5 million emergency food parcels distributed in 2020 alone, with 900,000+ of them going to children. The pandemic has made the problem more severe: food insecurity in the UK rose by 18% in 2020, and the number of emergency food parcels distributed increased by 600,000 compared to the pre- pandemic period. It is expected that supply chain disruptions, rising inflation and universal credit cuts will put further strain on the problem.
BWC are supporting Cambridge City Foodbank & Oxford Food Hub. These foodbanks, in turn, support hundreds of families in their local areas.
BWC said: “We were absolutely floored by the success of last year, and the pandemic has made the problem of food poverty so much worse, that it was an obvious choice to do it again. We’re hoping that this becomes a permanent fixture on the Varsity calendar.”
Image: Because We Can