Knowledge for better food systems

Call for collaborations from the University of Warwick and the Food Ethics Council

1 Mar 2013

Researchers at the University of Warwick, in partnership with the Food Ethics Council, are currently undertaking a rapid research project mapping the ‘UK food aid provision’ landscape for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The project aims are to review existing evidence on or related to ‘food aid’ in order to build a better picture of the extent and effectiveness of provision available and learn from experience on effectiveness of existing and potentially alternative/ better solutions. The research is primarily secondary research (drawing on review of published and grey literature), but also includes a senior-level workshop and a number of short case studies.

The evidence review will not only cover academic literature but also as much grey and unpublished work as is obtainable. In order to ensure the research is as comprehensive as possible we are contacting you to enquire about any relevant publications or reports that you are aware of that may be pertinent.

We are interested in work which looks at any kind of food aid, a term we are using as an umbrella covering a range of large-scale and small local activities aiming to help people meet food needs, often on a short-term basis during crisis or immediate difficulty. Examples include: free or heavily discounted hot meals; food parcels (including food banks); breakfast clubs and free school meals. Our review is located within the wider context of household food security, thus linking ‘food aid’ provision, household socio-economic circumstance and/or broader household coping strategies.

A brief summary of the project can be found below and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you are aware of any work of relevance, we would be very grateful if you could contact Hannah Lambie-Mumford by Friday 1st March 2013.

PROJECT SUMMARY - Household Food Security: A Review of Food Aid (Defra 1205)

This research aims to provide a rapid but comprehensive and systematic review of evidence on the extent and effectiveness of current food aid provision within the UK. ‘Food aid’ is here used as an umbrella term encompassing a range of large-scale and small local activities aiming to help people meet food needs, often on a short-term basis during crisis or immediate difficulty; more broadly they contribute to relieving symptoms of household or individual level food insecurity and poverty. The research will elaborate a clear typology of such activities and explore their contribution to the issues concerned. It will address key questions of who makes use of food aid and why; what types of food aid are available and whether there are trends in their use; the impact of food aid provision on its recipients and local communities; and some of the key benefits and drawbacks of different types of food aid provision. The review, based on systematic assessment of published and grey national and international literature, is largely desk-based, but is critically informed by a workshop involving key experts, who include food aid provision practitioners, poverty charities, policy makers and the retail and general food industry, to explore the questions, drawing on existing evidence and their on-going experience. In addition, the research will involve a mapping exercise and small number of specific detailed case studies.

The research is located within the wider context of current household level food security and the challenges posed by contemporary rising food prices, austerity and economic recession, and thus aims to inform policy understanding, possibilities and decision making, for Defra and other key stakeholders.

The team carrying out the work has long-standing research experience in household food security problematics and possibilities, sustainable food systems, the food business sector, food aid provision and food policy analysis, as well expertise in systematic research methodologies.