Food Aid Provision in the UK

9 Apr 2014, 14:00 - 16:00

Attlee Suite, Portcullis House

person holding food bank box

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The use of food banks is increasing in the UK. However the exact number of people using food banks is unclear and there is debate as to the underlying reasons for their growth. To inform debate, this research seminar provided an opportunity to hear from leading researchers about the latest findings of research on food poverty and food aid provision across the UK. This included a review commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

It brought together stakeholders from government, funders, academia, charities, and the voluntary, community and faith sector to discuss evidence gaps and future research needs. The seminar was hosted in collaboration with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger and Food Poverty, who used it to inform the terms of reference of its Inquiry into Hunger and Food Poverty in Britain. The Inquiry is taking evidence on the extent and causes of hunger in Britain, the scope of provision to alleviate it and a comparison with other western countries until 5pm on Monday 30 June 2014. If you wish to make a submission to the Inquiry, please visit


  • 2.00pm Welcome from Sarah Newton MP, Secretary of the APPG on Hunger and Food Poverty and POST Board Member.
  • 2.10pm Speakers
    Professor Elizabeth Dowler, Professor of Food and Social Policy, University of Warwick (click here to view presentation)
    Ms Hannah Lambie-Mumford, Researcher, University of Sheffield (click here to view presentation)
    Dr Filip Sosenko, Research Associate & Dr Nicola Livingstone, Researcher, Heriot-Watt University (click here to view presentation)
    3.00pm Speakers panel discussion and Q&A, facilitated by the Chair
  • 3.50pm Chair’s closing comments


Professor Elizabeth Dowler spoke about the relationship between food poverty, health and wellbeing and gave an overview of the findings of the study commissioned by Defra on household food security. Ms Hannah Lambie-Mumford provided an overview of what is known about the extent of food aid provision, user groups, factors affecting growth and implications of growth based on findings from a report for the Trussell Trust and her doctoral research. Dr Filip Sosenko and Dr Nicola Livingstone discussed the forms and structure of food aid provision, extent of provision, user groups and factors affecting growth in Scotland, based on research conducted for the Scottish Government. Baroness Parminter discussed fiscal and non-fiscal incentives around food redistribution, following the House of Lords EU Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment and Energy Sub-Committee Inquiry into the EU's contribution to food waste prevention.

Some of the issues raised for discussion include:

  • the definition of food aid provision, food poverty and food insecurity, and the wider relationship between food, health and wellbeing and the need for ‘good food for all’;
  • the importance of access to food for individuals in crisis, but debate as to whether entrenchment of emergency food aid provision was desirable or whether it would detract attention from wider structural issues impacting on food insecurity;
  • the importance of considering regional variation in food price and availability, and the role of social supermarkets and other approaches in providing access to affordable food; and
  • challenges around conducting robust research to understand factors affecting food insecurity, including monitoring users of food aid services, accessing hard to reach groups and funding.


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