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Food Banks Implemented in Response to Hunger

Leads: Prof Kate Jolly (Public Health), Dr Katharine Reeves, Prof Richard Lilford (Meths)

Public Contributors linked to the ARC WM Research Methods theme will work with the project leads to maximise impact of this study.

Dates: April 2020 - ongoing


Rising rates of child poverty have led to increases in disease associated with poverty, including malnutrition. Food banks have proliferated over the last decade in response to these changes.

Policy and Practice Partners:

None at present, but see below.

Co-Funding Partners:

Birmingham City Council.

Aims and Objectives:

The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between food banks and local child malnutrition rates in the city of Birmingham.


Using data on admissions for conditions associated with malnutrition from University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which serves the majority of the city’s population, we are conducting a geospatial statistical analysis. The geospatial approach allows us to account for unobserved local factors that might affect the rate of malnutrition, including poor environmental conditions and socioeconomic deprivation. For the years 2012 to 2019, we match each admission to a residential address and calculate the walking distance to the nearest food bank that was open that year, using information provided by the Trussel Trust and others. We hypothesise that proximity to a food bank reduces the risk of malnutrition. While our approach attempts to deal with issues of confounding, it nevertheless remains complex, as food banks may have been placed in the highest risk locations creating a ‘reverse causality’. We will also try to examine evidence for this process.

Main Results:




Implications for Implementation:

In areas where there are no food banks, a positive finding would increase justification for Local Authorities to implement food banks.