The findings of our research into food poverty in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea are presented in the report Cooking Up Ideas: Addressing the challenges of food poverty in Kensington and Chelsea.
The report was launched on Wednesday 19 October at Kensington Town Hall.
Below we publish the Executive Summary and the reports Key Findings:
Over the last 15 years charitable food aid provision has been expanding at an unprecedented level to meet the needs of people experiencing food poverty (see Lambie-Mumford 2015). Trussell Trust statistics on the use of food banks shows us that the national picture of a growing demand and supply of food aid provision is simultaneously reﬂected at a local level in Kensington and Chelsea.
‘Food poverty is the inability to access or afford healthy food’ (cited in GLA 2013, p7). This report is based on a series of interviews with food aid providers and users to gain a better understanding of food poverty at the local level. At the core of our analysis is the recognition of the human right to food. We raise the compelling question on why we are seeing people going hungry and using food aid provision in Kensington and Chelsea.
More importantly, our research throws light on a relatively unexplored area of food aid provision. We make a necessary distinction between formal food banks and informal food aid provision - that equally seek to alleviate food poverty in the borough. Where research has mainly focused on the former, our study prioritises the latter.
We demonstrate how community action in Kensington and Chelsea has been responding (amongst challenges and opportunities) to the needs of its residents experiencing food poverty. This form of action is relatively unaccounted for in literature and moreover far from reﬂected in official statistics on food poverty.
The statistics the government currently holds on food poverty relate to people accessing formal food banks only, and the larger food banks have already expressed this as an area of concern to government, arguing that many more are indeed experiencing food poverty. We therefore make a stronger case for this argument in the report to understand the true scale of food poverty in the modern day.
Looking forward, while we highlight the factors inducing local residents into food poverty through our participative research, we also put forward a multi-sector approach to tackling food poverty and the appearances of food aid or food banks in our community in Kensington and Chelsea.
- In the interviews we conducted we found the most recurrent causes of food poverty to be: rising living costs, low pay and insecure work and beneft reforms.
- Our interviews also suggested some people were experiencing ‘hidden hunger’, whereby due to stigma attached to using a food bank or aid certain vulnerable groups were deterred from their use.
- The interviews also highlighted certain vulnerable groups that were experiencing the worst effects of food poverty: children, low income families, refugees or those with asylum status, single parents, and the homeless.
- Our interviews with voluntary sector organisations providing food aid, suggested several challenges: the general insuffciency of formal aid, referral systems needing to be strengthened, better community outreach, improvements in food quality and cultural appropriateness and better funding and operational facilities. We also highlight several opportunities: sector cooperation, private partnerships, a community supermarket, the adoption of the London Living Wage and a conversation with government on the role of the voluntary sector on providing food aid in the future.