Bicester’s new Open Doors Cafe is set to tackle food poverty and provide a venue for company and conversation in the run-up to Christmas.

In December, the cafe, whose volunteers use surplus food to create tasty meals for everyone, will be putting a festive twist on its three-course menu.

To help address loneliness this winter, the cafe, which is operated by Bicester Food Bank, has also joined the Chatty Cafe scheme, a national initiative whereby participating cafes offer a designated table for conversation.

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Anyone can come along and know that people sitting there will be happy to have a chat.

Food Bank Manager Emma Salisbury said: “Many people welcome the opportunity to get out and engage with others over a good meal, especially in winter when some people in the community can feel quite isolated,”  

“We’re delighted to be supporting such a worthwhile scheme and look forward to hosting anyone who’d like to join us for a natter.

“We remain conscious of the rising cost of food and will continue to offer affordable meals throughout the festive season.”

Food poverty remains a major issue in Oxfordshire and beyond. The Trussell Trust, the UK's largest network of food banks, to which Bicester Food Bank belongs, reported in November 2022 that its members had provided 1.3 million emergency parcels to families in need from April to September. 

That’s a third more than were provided during the same period in 2021 and an increase of more than 50 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

Meanwhile, one in four household with children (25.8 per cent) experienced food insecurity in September, according to the Food Foundation, affecting an estimated 4 million children in the UK.

The Open Doors Cafe opens every Friday from 12.00-1.30pm at the Methodist Church on Sheep Street in Bicester.

Since its launch in October 2022, the cafe has consistently served around 50 people per week, with many customers returning each week for hearty soups and comforting dishes including fish pie, lasagne, vegetable stew and apple crumble.

Meals are made primarily with in-date ingredients from the Oxford Food Hub, which collates food surplus from Oxfordshire businesses that would otherwise have gone to waste.

The hub then redistributes it to hospices, shelters and other food charity services across the county.

Donations are welcomed, with the cafe operating a ‘Pay as you Feel’ scheme, which sees customers paying what they feel the meal is worth.

All funds raised are being used to improve the cafe and expand the service it offers to local people.

The cafe offers a different three-course menu every Friday.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing:

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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