In Pictures: Banbury community gathers to mark launch of new food bank

Banbury residents gathered at the town’s methodist church yesterday (April 30) to officially mark the launch of a new community larder.

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The new community larder is a joint initiative between local councillor Taraji Ogunnubi, Banbury Town Mayor Fiaz Ahmed, and the SOFEA charity.

It aims to provide fresh fruit and vegetables, essential foods and a host of advice services every week to those in need of a helping hand.

Users of the larder will pay a £3.50 weekly subscription, and in return, they will receive a box of food valued at £15.

Taraji said: “We are that link between various organisations and the community, where people can come and be made aware of organisations near them that can support them with any barriers they may be facing.

"We will have different organisations like the Sunshine Centre, The Hill or BYHP come here and speak to people about the work they do.

"So that when people collect their food, tea and coffee, they can also receive help for mental health, with their children or whatever they need.”

The larder will work in partnership with the South Oxfordshire Food and Education Alliance (SOFEA), a youth education charity based out of Didcot.

SOFEA helps young people across the county who have struggled in mainstream education to achieve their GCSEs, as well as assisting them with mental health and social issues.

One of the main projects of SOFEA is getting young people involved with local food banks by collecting food from supermarkets and delivering it to community larders.

Over the past two years, SOFEA has saved over 1,556 tonnes of food from going to landfill by giving it to the community larders.

The Community Larder will be open each Tuesday from 2pm until 4pm at the Banbury Methodist Church on Marlborough Road.

The reverend of the church, David Alderman, is delighted that the church will be the larder’s base and looks forward to getting involved.

He said: “I think it's absolutely wonderful, and as a church, we are privileged to provide hospitality for the Banbury Community Larder.

"In a town like Banbury, there is a growing need for support for all kinds of people, not just with food but all of the other things that the larder will offer.”

Also involved in the larder is the founder of the Lunch Box Project, Prabhu Natarajan, who will take on a role as director.

Prabhu said: “This is a very good initiative for Banbury because it goes beyond just helping people with food; there will also be mental health support, financial support, and job advice.

"It’s very useful and time-saving for groups like the Lunch Box Project to have a place like this in the town centre where we can direct people to collect food.”

Volunteers for the weekly larder will be made up of people from a range of backgrounds and organisations. Rocky John Wood explains the importance of volunteering at the larder.

He said: “People are really struggling at present; food prices have gone up unbelievably. There is also a social aspect to it because a lot of people are very lonely at the moment, and it's good to help people and give back to the community."

For more informaion about the Banbury Community Larder visit here.