Over the last year I’ve been conducting research with Doncaster Public Health to help them understand how to move beyond interventions that target people and try to nudge them into changing their behaviour. My work has focused on trying to understand how context shapes what people can and cannot do. This post highlights some of the findings from the research and makes some suggestions about how councils can support communities to be more resilient food landscapes. Continue reading
There have been a number of arguments in the press and on social media arguing that the use of surplus food to feed food insecure people is at best only a short-term solution and at worst harmful (e.g., Caraher 2017). I would agree that the hunger that is caused by poverty is not only not being addressed by the UK government (see Blake 2015, and a more recent update of the article published by GMPA) but in some cases is being enhanced by current government policy (e.g., a benefits system that has built in delays, draconian sanctions, programme cuts that impact on the most vulnerable). In reading the argument, however, a number of issues stand out as needing further clarification and interrogation. Firstly, there is a lack of understanding about food surplus in terms of what it is. Secondly, there is misconception about how food surplus becomes food for bellies as it travels through the charity sector. Thirdly, there is an overly narrow understanding of the value of surplus food both for charities and those whom they support. These issues are explored in this blog post. Continue reading
IMD as a predictor of children’s overweight status in Doncaster communities where there were more than 75 children measured.
Data for this analysis was provided in anonymised form from Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council Public Health, who was the collaborator on this research application.
The aim of this research is twofold. Firstly to consider the predictors of rates of children who are overweight and obese at community level and to determine if there are contextual factors that contribute to these rates. Secondly, the research aimed to identify communities that were performing better than would be expected so that a qualitative case study could be undertaken to try to see what might be supporting their resilience.
I recently participated in symposium that was considering waste in relation to food. It was put on as a pre-conference event to the 2015 RGS/IBG meetings held in Exeter. The symposium, which took place on a working farm, was both fascinating and very engaging. You can find out more about the event and its participants on the web site developed by the organisers here. I encourage you to have a look at the link as you will learn about West Town Farm and the activities of the day. My role at the symposium was to give a short talk around the issue of food waste and neoliberalism. I chose to use an excellent food re-use project–The Real Junk Food Project–as a mechanism for focusing my questions. I am offering the text of my provocation in what follows. Continue reading
This autumn will be the inaugural year for the Food Security and Food Justice MA that I have been developing over the last 18 months. The University of Sheffield has singled it out as being innovative and is using it as an example of good practice in its guidance for those wishing to start up an masters course. To that end, there is a video of me talking about the course. What got cut from the video was the discussion about the field course module that is a mandatory part of the course. It is to Hong Kong and promises to be very exciting.
On Friday, 8 May 2015 I awoke to discover that not only were we not looking forward to a new coalition government in the UK, but that the overall collapse of the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party has given the Conservative government a mandate in UK politics. While I, at an individual level, am likely to see some benefits from the strong neoliberalism that underpins this government’s ideology, I am concerned by the implications of this for the country more generally and particularly the nation’s poor. Indeed, I see a further deepening of the division between those who have and those who have not. As I will elaborate, this will mean the continued exponential growth in the numbers of people requiring emergency food assistance and increased numbers of children and elderly with inadequate food supply, which will also translate into higher rates of obesity, diet rated illness and malnutrition. These trends as they are situated within the current climate of neoliberal austerity will also mean that we, if we are to continue as a nation with social values (as opposed to only economic values) must find ways of filling the gap, not just for families but also for our communities. Continue reading