During the pandemic, vulnerably housed people were moved into accommodation with access only to a kettle and microwave. Older people living alone, particularly with dementia, found it hard to eat healthily. Despite the easing of restrictions, the ongoing stress of reduced support systems, employment and financial worries, and the continued need for self-isolation means many people are still struggling to feed themselves and their families. Regular, healthy meals impact significantly on positive health and well-being, and even on educational achievement. OMA believes that adequate nutrition is a human right and we are committed to removing food inequalities in our city.
Our project sources surplus, healthy food from supermarkets in order for chefs to prepare home-cooked meals. Volunteers deliver the meals directly to people who cannot regularly cook for themselves and their families. A grant would cover the rental of a community kitchen, heavily subsidised food ingredients, biodegradable food containers, and the part-time hours of a chef who organises the weekly cooking and of a coordinator to support logistics and volunteers. OMA's meals impact on more than people's physical health; the meal delivery offers social contact and an opportunity to connect meaningfully with others in their local community, particularly for older people feeling isolated.
Since early 2020, OMA has mobilised over 500 volunteers in total to deliver free regular food parcels, emergency food requests, and re-heatable meals each week to Oxford residents who are experiencing food poverty both as a result of the pandemic and from pre-existing food vulnerability. OMA has built up a highly responsive, nimble operation with the capacity (thanks to committed volunteers) to turn around requests for food within 12 hours. OMA is the only emergency food service running 7 days a week. Thanks to extensive partnerships with colleges, schools, food banks, local charities, statutory bodies and even local farms, OMA can now meet the food needs of 2,000 people each month.