The primary objective of our Living Lab is to examine the barriers that make it difficult for vulnerable local populations to adopt healthier and more sustainable eating habits. Through solution co-design and rigorous testing, we aim to identify and implement innovative strategies that enable these groups to integrate healthier and more sustainable food choices into their daily lives.
Video in English with English subtitles
Who we would like to support
Our Living Lab is designed to serve the needs of the most vulnerable populations in Oxfordshire, particularly those who rely on community-based food services in areas with high levels of deprivation. Our target groups include:
- Parents with children aged under 18
- Expectant mothers
- Ethnic minorities
- We may also involve frontline workers, staff and volunteers who work at community-based food services and Good Food Oxfordshire network members focusing on food businesses (including producers and growers).
What’s coming next
Using qualitative techniques including focus groups, semi-structured interviews, storytelling, food diaries and/or video approaches, we have designed a comprehensive plan that includes the following steps:
- Understand/map current dietary patterns of target populations relating to healthier and more sustainable food
- Understand current dietary objectives of target populations
- Understand the barriers to achieving target population stated dietary objectives
- Understand the barriers to target populations eating a healthier and more sustainable diets
We aim to identify ‘micro-sites’ within Oxfordshire to ensure a broad representation of deprivation and the inclusion of rural and urban areas.
Get to know the region
In Oxfordshire, individuals with lower incomes face a range of significant health challenges, including a higher incidence of type-2 diabetes and poorer overall diet-related health outcomes. Alarmingly, 1 in 3 children in Year 6 in the region is overweight or obese, with those living in the most deprived areas being over twice as likely to suffer from these conditions than their more affluent counterparts. We hypothesise that people on lower incomes are less likely to participate in sustainable dietary choices due to access and affordability.
The evidence shows that access to affordable healthier and more sustainable food is a significant challenge for many individuals in Oxfordshire, particularly those living in the most deprived areas. Studies from both 2016 and 2021 indicate that healthier and more sustainable food is less available and more expensive in some of the most deprived areas (GFO, 2016; 2021).
We estimate that around 100,000 people in Oxfordshire were experiencing food insecurity as of September 2022, based on extrapolations of national data from the Food Foundation and University of Sheffield as well as our local knowledge around the current use of foodbanks and community larders.
Local Food Challenges
The current evidence on cost and access is fragmented and insufficient to address barriers to people regularly eating healthier and more sustainable diets. We hear anecdotally that many people struggle with lack of knowledge, confidence and skills around cooking – including budgeting, planning, cooking techniques and facilities for cooking. We also know that in certain wards/areas, fruit and vegetables at local fresh fruit and vegetable outlets are significantly more expensive than local supermarkets, making it more challenging for these communities to access nutritious foods. To address these barriers, our Living Lab seeks to work closely with at-risk communities to co-design effective and practical solutions that can be tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. By engaging directly with these communities, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying factors that contribute to diet-related illnesses and identify innovative strategies that can promote healthier and more sustainable diets. Ultimately, we will evaluate the effectiveness of these solutions and use this data to guide future efforts to improve access to nutritious foods in Oxfordshire.
Living Lab Actions
Among the key goals of our Living Lab in Oxfordshire are the following:
- To identify the barriers to eating healthier and more sustainable diets for people living within our living lab test sites within Oxfordshire.
- To identify (through participatory processes) ways to make it easier for people in our living lab test sites to eat a healthier and more sustainable diet.
- To co-design, implement and test these solutions with the members of our living lab.
- To evaluate the effectiveness of these solutions in making it easier for participant groups to eat a healthier and more sustainable diet.
- To evaluate the effectiveness of these solutions in reducing food insecurity.
- Local community organisations
- Local businesses
- Local institutions
- Policy makers – to create policies that support local food businesses, health of local people and sustainability of food sources
- Funders to enable them to focus on good food
- Advocates – both local and on a national scale to get them to share our content
- Potential volunteers
- Individuals wanting to change their behaviours
- Synthesizing of existing local research on food choices
- Mapping and evaluation of cooking-related interventions already happening across Oxfordshire such as cooking training and recipe sharing