The first flowers of spring are coming out and we're gearing up again for a lot more in-person events this year. Read on to find out how you can join the Switch Up Your Lunch veg pledge campaign team this year, what you need to know if you work with people eligible for Healthy Start Vouchers, an update on labelling requirements for food businesses and exciting network events coming up, including the Good To Grow Day for community growing projects in April.
Join the Switch Up Your Lunch team as a publicity volunteer
Together with Oxfordshire Greentech, Oxfordshire's sustainable business network, we are running the Switch Up Your Lunch veg pledge for the fourth year. While the last two years had to happen predominantly online, we are looking forward to seeing a lot more meals served again this year.
Get ready now to sign up your business, organisation or group for the pledge on 13th June. And if you'd like to support the pledge and join our small and dynamic campaign team as a publicity volunteer, please take a look here and apply (the extended application deadline for our newsletter readers is 7th March).
Sign your garden up for Good To Grow Weekend in April
The annual Good To Grow Weekend – formerly known as the Big Dig – is a wonderful opportunity to launch your activities for the coming growing season, invite your neighbourhood and gain new volunteers. You can now sign up your event for the Good To Grow Weekend 22nd-25th April at goodtogrowuk.org.
And if your community or school garden is not already listed on the map, you can sign up for free and download useful resources to help you with your events.
Updates to NHS Healthy Start Scheme
The NHS Healthy Start Scheme is changing. Paper vouchers are being replaced by a prepaid card and all beneficiaries need to apply NOW to continue to receive their benefit.
We are asking for your help to promote the scheme to beneficiaries. You can help us support the scheme by downloading and sharing the latest guidance and social media:
Why does this matter? Many families who are eligible are not registered for the scheme, which means that 38% of families in Oxford, and more in other areas, are missing out on vital support for buying fresh fruit and vegetables. Beneficiaries can apply online for the new scheme at healthystart.nhs.uk
Good Food Grapevine: Food News
Here are some of the highlights from the network this month! Remember to get in touch with your own grapevine news, and make use of the option of listing your events on our website's calendar at goodfoodoxford.org/events. And if we have helped you, please consider making a regular or occasional donation to contribute to the running of your network – within the range of your organisation’s ability of course.
The Veg Power Eat Them To Defeat Them schools programme started on 28th February, and 50 schools in Oxfordshire are participating with the support of Oxfordshire County Council Public Health. One of the participating schools is Cutteslowe Primary, who have a forest school garden, are going to grow pumpkins for Oxfordshire Pumpkin Festival during this spring and summer, and just signed the Oxfordshire Good Food Charter.
Down To Earth Wantage has hosted several Climate Cook-ins in the past few months, and have just started a series of cooking sessions. Watch more on what they have been up to on Instagram.
The recent Oxinabox food awards have rewarded the amazing work happening in Oxfordshire to fight food poverty by awarding a Food Heroes award to Waste2Taste and Taste Tibet. Heartiest congratulations and keep up the amazing work which we're proud to have supported!
OX4 Food Crew now offer a "Pay as you feel" lunch every Monday, at Waste2Taste on the first Monday of the month and all other Mondays at Flo's The Place in the Park.
Oxford City Farm have successfully crowdfunded for their community and raised a staggering 17,000+. Congratulations to the team and heartfelt thanks to all who contributed!
Congratulations to all the recipients of the High Sheriff's climate action heroes award including GFO network members Marston Community Gardening, Cherwell Collective, FarmED and Sustainable Wantage. Read more
Welcome to the most recent new GFO network members, Botley Meadow Bees, Bruern Farms, Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon, Cutteslowe Primary School and Orange Bakery. It's free to join the GFO network – sign up now with your business, organisation or group at goodfoodoxford.org/network.
Dietary labelling requirements and free training for local food businesses
In October 2021, a new allergen labelling law known as “Natasha’s Law” came into force to protect people with food allergies eating at takeaway outlets. If you run a food business and need training for your staff, Oxfordshire Regulatory Partners are offering a suite of free training courses in March 2022 on allergen requirements, to support businesses to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic and other key topics. Find out more
Plant-based options preferred at Oxfordshire County Council
At the beginning of February, Oxfordshire County Council approved a motion to include more vegetables in school meals, promote sustainable food education in schools and shift to plant-based food at Council events. Despite the broad remit of the motion, media coverage focused only on the latter, prompting a group of Oxfordshire farmers to hold a small protest outside the County Hall.
In response, Sustain have sent an open letter to the Council and we are working together with the Council, local farmers and the NFU to support the shift to increasing vegetable consumption, offering more plant-based options, promoting local procurement and shifting to better – that is, locally and sustainable produced – meat, eggs and dairy. Read more about the motion and our response on our blog.
Take part in University of Oxford research on dietary choices
What makes people choose different diets, and what foods do these diets really contain? Whether you are a vegan, a flexitarian or an omnivore, the 'Feeding the future study' (FEED) is asking for your support to help them answer these questions. The study, led by the University of Oxford with backing from the World Health Organization, is looking for UK residents to complete a one-off 20 minute online survey about their eating habits, dietary motivations and lifestyle.
North Aston Organic are looking for a seasonal worker from mid March to mid October.
Abingdon Carbon Cutters are looking for a new webmaster and a lead on sustainable housing and our local representative for Cosy Homes Oxfordshire. Contact
We're Just One Slice of the Pie: Global and National Food News
No more peat in our compost
We need to protect peatlands for climate, nature and communities. You can now support the ban on retail sales of peat to keep carbon in the ground by responding to a consultation organised by our partners Sustain. Read Sustain's blog and respond to the consultation before 18th March.
And if you're buying compost, please support our local Oxfordshire producers of the finest organic leaf compost and soil conditioner, Happy Earth Soil.
New White Paper on Levelling Up School Food
A new Levelling Up White Paper has presented a number of exciting reforms to school food policy, including a commitment to ensure school food standards are being met: Read more