Food transport
United Kingdom
Food region
Anglosaxon group
Small City & Rural
Understanding and exploring ways to support healthy and sustainable diets in vulnerable groups in Oxfordshire

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.

Oxford view

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.

Fresh vegetables

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. 

Children cooking class

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.


Project Lead at Good Food Oxfordshire 
Caroline Welch

FAQ – Frequently asked questions

The Good Food Oxford initiative has a rich history dating back to its inception in 2013, when a group of grassroots organisations, local businesses, and community members joined forces with the goal of creating a fairer, healthier and more sustainable food system for Oxford. Since then, we have formalised the central organisation and built a network of over 150 member organisations who have all signed the Good Food Charter – pledging actions that are Good for the Planet, Good for People and Good for Community. In 2021, we expanded beyond Oxford City and became countywide, rebranding as Good Food Oxfordshire (GFO). GFO operates as a central, backbone organisation to strategically organise and support connections between actors and activities to achieve our shared vision that everyone in Oxfordshire can access the healthy and sustainable food that they need, every day.

Our Living Lab initiative in Oxfordshire involves a diverse group of stakeholders who play a critical role in achieving our goal of creating a fairer, healthier, and more sustainable food system. These stakeholders include:
  • 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

We plan to leverage growth hacking techniques and workshops to co-design solutions with other project partners. This includes developing interventions such as cooking skills and confidence building sessions, as well as providing recipe and facilities support.

Our secondary research objectives include:
  • 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

Living Lab Food Regions

Southern European group

CIM Alto Minho



Eastern European group



Anglosaxon group


Scandinavian group