Over 10k items donated as Oxford wins food-bank Varsity

Despite being outnumbered 14 colleges to 9, Oxford has beaten out Cambridge in the first Buy One Give One Free (BOGOF) competition. Until now, Cambridge had always been ahead, but Oxford pulled through, with Keble alone donating 2015 items, and St Edmund Hall not far behind with 1433.

In total, the 9 Oxford colleges taking part collected 5214 items, while the 14 Cambridge colleges collected 4913.

Running from Wednesday 18th November to Wednesday 2nd December, the concept was simple: When students went shopping and bought something that a food bank also needs, they were asked to buy a few additional items. That way, they could donate those items to a local food bank. 

It is estimated that 100,000 people used a food bank for the first time during the first month of lockdown, and so it is clear that support for local food banks is desperately needed. To help satisfy the rising demand, the initiative was launched by the charity Because We Can, founded by former Lady Margaret Hall Junior Common Room president, Josh Tulloch. 

In a congratulatory Facebook post, Because We Can wrote: “As much as we’ve had fun these past two weeks, let’s not forget why we’re doing this. Food poverty is a serious serious problem in the UK, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.”

“So, let BOGOF be a lifestyle. Whenever you’re shopping, if you can, buy a few extra items and stick them in your supermarket’s donation box!”

Tulloch commented that they have been “absolutely floored” by the generosity of Oxford and Cambridge students.

“10,000 items wasn’t in our wildest fantasies! It shows that even in the toughest of times, we still have it in us to pull together. And as much as this has been a fun competition, we must remember that this isn’t a game for people who are actually suffering. Let’s continue to do our bit throughout the year, simply because we can.”

You can read Jade Calder’s perspective on the realities of food poverty here