Food and beyond: exploring the foodbank experience

Scottish Charity Awards 2017 winner – Charity Champion – Laura Young, Teapot Trust

Year of publication
Louise Lawson and Ade Kearns (University of Glasgow)

In the 2015 GoWell household survey, participants were asked if they had used a foodbank in the past year. In 2017, the researchers carried out follow-up, in-depth qualitative interviews with a small sample of those people who reported being foodbank users.

The report outlines a range of findings, particularly around the valuable role foodbanks have in reducing isolation and emotionally supporting those who have additional issues around poor physical and mental health, often caused by factors such as financial crisis, longer-term addiction and health issues, and family bereavement.

However, foodbanks are mainly a source of emergency food aid - they helped improve people’s lives but they did not transform them.

The researchers suggest that the question whether foodbanks can be extended or transformed into a means of food aid that is more open, inclusive and socially focused seems worthy of further consideration.

The researchers also caution that while the third sector and Scottish Government may not see foodbanks continue as part of a modern and sustainable society "“There’s a big social need here that is not a food need. The Scottish Government asked us to look at the implications for food policy, but what we found has a bearing on its social isolation strategy as well.”

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