Cherwell Collective's "Live, Learn, Eat, Grow" is among 23 projects from the EU and the United Kingdom that have received the award for their outstanding contribution to fighting COVID-19 and its disastrous consequences.
The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has awarded the Civil Solidarity Prize to the UK's Cherwell Collective for its project, which fights against COVID-related food insecurity and financial hardship by empowering people to become an active part of their own supply chain. Focusing on waste reduction, education and outreach, the Cherwell Collective is helping make its community more sustainable and better prepared for a post-COVID future.
The EESC selected Cherwell Collective as the best UK candidate for the Prize, feeling that its entry stood out as a shining example of remarkable solidarity and civic responsibility during the COVID-19 crisis.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, the Oxford-based not-for-profit company has supplied food and other provisions to many residents in need. Instead of simply mitigating food and supply shortages, it devised actions to teach people how to grow their own food and to reduce waste by learning how to make the best use of all surplus foodstuffs. Through education and empowerment, people become more independent and self-sufficient.
With "Waste not, want not" as its unofficial theme, the Collective hopes its forward-thinking approach will help reduce food poverty and increase well-being after the crisis.
Cherwell Collective was announced as one of the 23 prize-winners at a virtual awards ceremony held by the EESC on 15 February. Each winner received a prize worth EUR 10 000.
THE UK WINNER
Cherwell Collective received the award as one of the entries focusing on the theme "food supply and assistance to vulnerable groups". The theme grouped together projects supplying food rations, such as freshly-cooked food or fresh fruit and vegetables, often combining it with other actions, such as distributing medical equipment or offering additional support services for everyday life. The primary target groups were the elderly, especially those living alone, the homeless, families in need, minorities, migrants and refugees.
The Collective runs three interconnected core projects: Cherwell Larder delivered supplies to some 600 people each week during the UK’s first lockdown and now feeds more than 1000 a week.
Born out of produce shortages and supply-chain problems, Harvest @ Home provides basic garden supplies and guidance for people to grow their own food. Climatarian Kitchen offers cooking courses, meal kits and ready meals made from surplus food. Meal kits include flexible recipes that help build people’s confidence in the kitchen. Since July 2020, the initiative has supplied 100 households each week.
"I am honoured to receive this prize on behalf of the hundreds of people and organisations who have helped make this project possible," said Collective founder Emily Connally. "This prize gives instant international credibility that could immediately facilitate dozens of local jobs and, in the long term, will empower the sustainable redevelopment of our community."