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Rapid evidence assessment on the topic of informal food assistance and household food security (commissioned by Defra)

This project (commissioned by Defra in 2013) focuses on existing evidence, supplemented by some primary research. Other than Eric Jensen, the other members of the research team include: Professor Liz Dowler (University of Warwick), Hannah Lambey-Mumford (Sheffield University) and Daniel Crossley (Food Ethics Council).

The objectives of the project were defined as follows:

Primary objective:

• To critically assess and summarise the existing evidence about food aid provision in the UK

Secondary objectives:

• To identify different models of food aid provision in the UK, and come to a better understanding of the principles behind them and factors driving trends in their recent developments and practice;

• To improve understanding of different types or groups of current UK food aid users, their food consumption coping strategies, and something of their journey through the food aid system;

• To discern whether there are any current trends in the use of different types of food aid, and if so, what is driving those trends; • To come to a better understanding of the socio-economic impacts of being in receipt of food aid;

• To draw on evidence from the UK and internationally to identify the benefits and drawbacks of different types of food aid interventions in the UK (including exploring notions of resilience and ‘best practice’);

• To examine views and expectations of food aid providers, and others engaged with ‘at risk’ households, over the immediate and longer-term potential for such provision, and its implications;

• To examine what food aid providers see as future possibilities and needs for their activities; • To investigate other forms of support, and potential for promoting or protecting household and individual food security by different means, for those utilising current food aid provision, and thus ways in which numbers turning to food aid may be reduced.

• To distil key recommendations for policy based on the evidence collected.