Multi-disciplinary research conference on food and poverty in the UK: Taking stock, moving forward.
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|
Looking back, looking forward: research from other times and other places to inform the present.
with: Prof Valerie Tarasuk (University of Toronto)
Paper Session 1: Exploring drivers and characteristics of food bank use.
Paper Session 3: Lived experiences of food insecurity by different groups.
Multi-disciplinary approaches to exploring the (re)emergence of hunger and rise of food banks in the UK
with: Dr Andrew Williams (Cardiff University)
Day 2: Tuesday 17th April 2018
|9:00–09:45||Registration: coffee/tea and pastries|
The role of food in Minimum Income Standards with:
Prof Donald Hirsch (Loughborough University)
Paper Session 5: Impacts of heat and housing costs on food insecurity.
Pitch Session 1: Examining the potential of local food projects.
Use of research for informing policy and practice to address food insecurity in the UK
with: End Hunger UK (Oxfam/CAP)
|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
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