Food Banks: Alleviating Hunger and Food Waste?

Date: Wednesday, April 29

Time: 3:30pm - 5:00pm

Venue: School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford OUCE, South Parks Road, OX1 3QY Oxford

Who is responsible for feeding hungry people?

What about the massive amounts of food wasted each year?

Is there a basic right to food, and the right to choose that food?

Is the ‘food bank’ the best solution for the issues of hungry people and surplus food, or are they masking larger institutionalized problems?

We know that the UK has hungry people and contributes to copious amounts of food waste/surplus food. The questions listed above, and more, will be discussed by a panel discussion hosted by the Oxford Food Justice Society. The Panel will consist of David Cairns MBE and co-founder of Oxford Food Bank; Elizabeth Dowler PhD, European Commission Advisor, and Trustee for Food Ethics Council; and Jane Benyon founder of the Community Emergency Food Bank in Oxford. Finally, Peter Lefort, the Project Officer for Community Action Group Oxfordshire, will chair the event.

We expect many opportunities for audience participation during the panel, and look forward to further discussion among attendees afterwards.

For more information, please visit the Oxford Food Justice Facebook page.

More about the speakers

David Cairns - BSc Mech Eng.

Spent 15 years working around the world for the leading oilfield services company Schlumberger. He later returned to the UK and worked at Board level in the services industry until deciding to retire in 2006. He then founded the Oxford Foodbank with Robin Aitken in 2009. In 2014 he was awarded an MBE for Services to The Vulnerable. Contributed written and oral evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group investigating Food, who is active in uncovering and addressing issues of food poverty and food waste here in Oxfordshire.

Elizabeth Dowler – PhD 

A Registered Nutritionist (public health) currently working on the social and policy aspects of the food system. For many years she worked in the global South through the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and UN agencies, but now works more on food and social policy and social problems in the global North/Europe since moving to Warwick in 2000 to the Department of Sociology. Through the interdisciplinary Warwick Food group I also work with colleagues in the Warwick Crop Centre, PAIS and Maths & Stats. In 2008 I was a Senior Marie Curie Research Fellow at University College Dublin, working on implementing a rights based approaches to food poverty. She has also been a member of several panels and committees giving advice to policy makers (e.g. the UK Food Standards Agency, Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, and NICE). In 2014 was a member of the Expert External Panel evaluating Framework 7 programme 2006-2013 for Food, Agriculture, Fisheries and Biotechnology (KBBE) for the European Commission, and is currently a member, and until recently a Trustee, of the Food Ethics Council, a small ngo working for a more sustainable, just food system.

Jane Benyon - community member

Founded the Community Emergency Food Bank (CEF) together with friends, six years ago; since then CEF has provided food for more than 11,000 people. Having been very involved with the Oxford community, she has first hand experience with the issue of hunger in Oxford. In 2014, she participated in a 263 mile walk to raise awareness for food poverty. She has also been an active in attempts to reduce the number of people who go hungry in Oxford each year.

Peter Lefort - chair

Through his work at Community Action Group Oxfordshire has, he has been active in most community organizations within Oxford. He has taken special interest in food waste, surplus food and food poverty, and is currently working on a project dedicated to these issues. He was also an active member in the 'Feeding the Gaps' report, which was released earlier this year and scheduled to move forward soon.