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Hunger Bonds: Food Banks, Families and the Feeding of Poverty

Project description

The connection between food donations and demand

Food banks are one of the fastest-growing charitable industries in Europe. In the past 20 years, food banks have emerged as a key response to the growing problems of poverty and food inequality. The spread of food banks is also a result of the commodification of social assistance and a warning that poverty prevention measures need improvement. The EU-funded HUNG project will investigate the situation in the United Kingdom – a country where the demand for emergency food parcels is growing. The project will use quantitative analysis and ethnography to investigate the relationship between food donations and demand. The results will benefit both academics, policymakers and the relief agencies fighting poverty in Europe.


"In the United Kingdom food banks are increasingly required to alleviate hunger and food insecurity. In Greater Manchester (GM) alone, the GM Poverty Alliance mapped 171 emergency food providers. While the renewed interest of social scientists in the topic has produced an abundance of scientific literature, there remains a lack of knowledge on the webs of influence, support, conflict and interdependence between families experiencing food poverty and the emergency food providers.
Project HUNG, by embracing a relational approach, focuses on the space of relations occupied by actors and institutions engaged with one another. Thereby, it proposes a relational object of analysis: not food poverty or food banks per se, but rather the interactions and transactions involved in the process of charitable supply and food demand.
The project, based on the GM metropolitan county, makes use of quantitative analysis and ethnography of the everyday life to throw light on the ""hunger bonds"" connecting emergency providers and their users. On the one side, by gathering original survey data on food banks and their users, it provides a descriptive analysis on the determinants of food bank use through a dataset suitable for multilevel modelling (individuals nested in food banks). On the other side, it offers an in-depth ethnography of the daily life of a small sample of families that frequently rely on food banks by shadowing their meal choices for a prolonged period of time.
By doing so, HUNG creates twofold added-value for the research community and for policy makers. Scholars interested in food inequalities will have access to a methodological toolkit, that could be used to extend research in other metropolitan domains. Simultaneously, by describing in detail the determinants of food bank use, it will improve the capability of agencies fighting food poverty to influence public policies to end food poverty.



Net EU contribution
€ 212 933,76
Oxford road
M13 9PL Manchester
United Kingdom

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North West (England) Greater Manchester Manchester
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00