Multi-disciplinary research conference on food and poverty in the UK: Taking stock, moving forward.

Monday, April 16, 2018 to Tuesday, April 17, 2018

King’s College London, Strand Campus

Over 16 & 17 April 2018, Drs Rachel Loopstra and Hannah Lambie-Mumford hosted the first-ever national research conference on household food insecurity.

Conference background and aims

Before 2011, there was very low public awareness of food banks in the UK, and household food insecurity was a term mostly referred to in academic papers. But with the release of annual figures from The Trussell Trust Foodbank Network highlighting they were opening a food bank every week in the 2012, and that the amount of food they had  distributed nearly trebled from the previous year, food bank usage and hunger in the UK became front-page news. Since then, The Trussell Trust, as well as independent food banks have reported increasing food bank usage, with most recent data from The Trussell Trust highlighting 1.33 million instances of adults and children receiving food in 2017/2018. Other food aid providers, such as those offering cooked shared/ community meals, have also reported increased demand. And for the first time since 2003-2005, a measure of household food insecurity was included on a national household survey covering England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which showed that in 2016, 13% of adults experienced marginal food insecurity, and an additional 8% were moderately or severely food insecure.

With the increasing recognition of the problem of household food insecurity in the UK, there has been a growing amount of research focused on the inability of people to afford sufficient food and experiences of food in poverty. From in-depth ethnographic research, policy analyses of welfare reform and their impacts on the ability for people to afford food, studies of child feeding programmes, and new analyses of survey data, this is a quickly growing and multidisciplinary field of research.

In April 2018, the first-ever national conference on household food insecurity in the UK was hosted, bringing together leading researchers and third-sector organisations to share research on this important and pressing issue of increasing concern.

The aim of this conference was to highlight the emerging body of research on food and poverty in the UK. Specifically, the objectives of the conference were:

  • To provide a forum for the presentation of recent multidisciplinary research on food and poverty that is being conducted across the UK.
  • To facilitate knowledge exchange between researchers and third sector organisations, policymakers and other research users.
  • To provide a forum for discussion on key research priorities to inform policy and practice going forward.

Programme at a glance

Day 1: Monday 16th April 2018

09:00–10:00 Registration: coffee/tea and pastries
10:00–10:15 Welcome

Plenary session

Looking back, looking forward: research from other times and other places to inform the present.

with: Prof Valerie Tarasuk (University of Toronto)
Prof Elizabeth Dowler (University of Warwick)

11:45–12:45 Lunch

Parallel sessions

Paper Session 1: Exploring drivers and characteristics of food bank use.
Paper Session 2: Food insecurity, diet, and health.

14:15-14:30 Comfort break

Parallel sessions

Paper Session 3: Lived experiences of food insecurity by different groups.
Paper Session 4: Interventions and evaluation.

16:00-16:30 Tea/coffee

Plenary panel

Multi-disciplinary approaches to exploring the (re)emergence of hunger and rise of food banks in the UK

with: Dr Andrew Williams (Cardiff University)
Dr Rebecca O’Connell (University College London)

Dr Kayleigh Garthwaite (University of Birmingham)
Dr Rachel Loopstra (King’s College London)

18.00–20:00 Drinks Reception

Day 2: Tuesday 17th April 2018

9:00–09:45 Registration: coffee/tea and pastries

Plenary session

The role of food in Minimum Income Standards with:

Prof Donald Hirsch (Loughborough University)

10:45–11.00 Comfort break

Parallel sessions

Paper Session 5: Impacts of heat and housing costs on food insecurity.
Paper Session 6: Policy analysis and engaging with policymakers.
Paper Session 7: Developing and supporting local responses to food insecurity.

12:00–13:00 Lunch

Parallel sessions

Pitch Session 1: Examining the potential of local food projects.
Pitch session 2: Dilemmas in food redistribution and food charity.
Pitch session 3: Exploring the need for targeted interventions.

14:00–15:00 Tea/coffee

Plenary session:

Use of research for informing policy and practice to address food insecurity in the UK

with: End Hunger UK (Oxfam/CAP)
The Trussell Trust

The Food Foundation

16:30–16:45 Comfort break
16:45–17:15 Conference wrap-up and participant reflections

We are delighted with the breadth of research that is featured in the conference programme. We received submissions from a range of academic disciplines, including sociology, social policy, health, nutrition, geography and theology. Food insecurity research is multidisciplinary, and different disciplinary approaches can offer unique insights into the problem. We encourage all attendees to move across sessions to learn how research is approached in different fields.

Unfortunately, not all submitted abstracts could be presented over the conference days. To enable you to learn about these projects as well, where possible, we have included these abstracts in the “Reserved Abstracts” section of this programme.

We hope you will find the conference days enriching. We look forward to moving this field of research on with you and to working together towards ending food insecurity in the UK.

With best wishes

Rachel Loopstra & Hannah Lambie-Mumford

Your content goes here. Edit or remove this text inline or in the module Content settings. You can also style every aspect of this content in the module Design settings and even apply custom CSS to this text in the module Advanced settings.