The top three from Oxford and Cambridge as of Wednesday (24/11)Because We Can

Colleges at “Camfridge” and “Oxfood”, as the universities are so called in the race to donate, have once again been going head-to-head for the latest edition of the Great Oxbridge Buy One Give One Free (BOGOF) campaign, an inter-college competition designed to support local food banks in the cities.

Set up by ‘Because We Can’, a campaign group fighting food poverty, the “BOGOF” campaign encourages students at the two universities to donate as many resources as possible.

Now in its second year, the initiative started on the Tuesday of week six (16/11) and will run until the Tuesday of week eight (30/11). At Cambridge, 20 of the 31 colleges are taking part, while at Oxford 16 of the 39 colleges are participating.

As the competition nears its conclusion, the 36 Oxbridge colleges involved have thus far donated at least 1,880 items to local food banks.

As of this Wednesday (24/11), Magdalene College was at the top of the Cambridge table, with 164 donations, with Fitzwilliam a close second with 162, and Girton third with 106. Two colleges – Murray Edwards and Selwyn - registered 0.

Overall, Cambridge led Oxford by 80 with 980 items, ahead of the latter’s 900. Keble College had donated the most items across the two universities, with a total of 241.

The theme for this year is “DTF?”, or “double the food”, a call on students to donate twice as many items as was donated last year. In 2020’s inaugural contest, 10,127 items were donated by 23 colleges across Oxbridge, so if achieved this would total over 20,000.

In the Trussell Trust’s food bank network, 2.5 million food parcels were distributed in the financial year 2020/21. This represented a 33% increase on the year before.

Last year, Oxford won the competition, donating 301 more items than Cambridge. With 1,875 items, Clare College donated the most at Cambridge.

A spokesperson for ‘Because We Can’ told Varsity that, with the additional thirteen colleges onboard this year, they hope “to reach even more people in need”.

They continued: “The fallout from the pandemic continues to push families into food poverty, and we’re working with Oxbridge to address these problems in their local communities for the 2nd time.

“We were absolutely floored by the success of last year, and the pandemic has made the problem of food poverty so much worse, that it was an obvious choice to do it again. We’re hoping that this becomes [a] permanent fixture on the Varsity calendar.”

Paying tribute to the student volunteer team of over 40 representatives from JCRs across Oxbridge, the spokesperson confirmed that the campaign will support Cambridge City Foodbank and Oxford Food Hub, who “in turn, support hundreds of families in their local areas.”


Mountain View

Oxbridge colleges go head-to-head to support local food banks

Also speaking to Varsity, the Charities Officer of St Catharine’s College’s JCR said that participation this year was being encouraged on social media and a box for donations was placed in the mail room.

Meanwhile Lottie Malaley and Yasmin Adam, Charities Officers on the Fitzwilliam JCR, described the way in which the initiative “has been embraced wholeheartedly” by students at the college.

Referencing the College’s collaboration with Cambridge Sustainable Food in November 2020 to provide 200 meals for families in need, Malaley and Adam added: “We are extremely proud of our college community for always supporting charity and access initiatives [...] there is a real engagement with this brilliant initiative [...] which utilises both the privilege found within these institutions and the age-old Oxbridge rivalry for a truly essential cause.”

The next leaderboard is due to be released by ‘Because We Can’ on their Facebook and Instagram platforms later today (26/11). The penultimate tables will then be released on Sunday (28/11), before the final leaderboard and champions are revealed next Tuesday (30/11).