Every Town Should Have One? Emergency Food Banking in the UK.
Research into food banking highlights the importance of rights-based approaches to food experiences in the UK.
Research published in the Journal of Social Policy explores the rise of the UK’s first national scale food banking initiative and discusses the importance of food rights for providing social policy makers and researchers with a framework for approaching food issues.
The research looks at the growth of the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network, the first national scale food banking initiative in the UK. It explores how processes of welfare restructuring and diversification may have set the scene for the rise of more formalised approaches to food banking. Data collected from interviews with people involved in Foodbanks revealed some of the effects of public sector spending cuts and the ways in which Foodbanks were seen as bridging some of the additional gaps which were emerging.
The research calls for social policy makers and researchers to more fully recognise the importance of food experiences. It draws on existing rights-based approaches, particularly the right to food as a way to achieve this. The author of the report, Hannah Lambie-Mumford said:
‘This is a crucial time to be looking at the place of food experiences in social policy. The efforts of hundreds of Foodbanks, their volunteers and donors to feed people in need raise urgent questions for policy makers and researchers around how they prioritise food experiences. The fact that 128,697 people received parcels of emergency food between 2011 and 2012 highlights the urgency of this issue. Human rights-based approaches can provide a much needed framework for bringing food to the foreground of social policy debates.’
Designed as an emergency response, providing relief to people in crisis, the research also highlighted how the Foodbank Network and individual projects within it navigated some of the tensions between alleviating symptoms and addressing root causes of poverty and need for emergency food. The research emphasises the importance of the Network’s campaigning and advocacy work as one particular way in which such initiatives can promote more structural interventions aimed at factors which underpin food insecurity and the need for emergency food.
Post written by article author Hannah Lambie-Mumford, University of Sheffield, UK