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Research uncovers the crucial role organisations play in tackling food poverty

18 July 2023

Vegetables, fruit and bread being sorted into boxes

Valuable insights into food provision and community initiatives in south Wales have been uncovered through a research project led by Cardiff Business School.

Recognising the pressing need for a better understanding of food aid distribution in the UK, Professor Yingli Wang and PhD student, Alex Jones, led the research project and formed a collaborative partnership with FareShare Cymru, and other local food initiatives to conduct an in-depth study.

The project involved an extensive survey and analysis of numerous community food providers, including food banks, community kitchens, and charitable organisations.

Researchers worked with FareShare Cymru, a renowned food redistribution charity, to gather invaluable data and insights into community food provision through FareShare Cymru's extensive network and expertise in combating food poverty.

Professor Wang highlighted the significance of their research: "due to the great diversity of community food provision, there is no comprehensive record of the number of organisations providing food aid in the UK – as indicated by the recent published UK Food Security Report (2021). Government data is also limited regarding the number of individuals or households receiving food aid, how much they might have received, and over what period.”

“The collaboration with FareShare Cymru and local community food project organisations has been pivotal in addressing these knowledge gaps and generating a more nuanced understanding of community food provision.”
Professor Yingli Wang Professor in Logistics and Operations Management, Deputy Head of Section - Research, Impact and Innovation

Findings from the research project illuminate the intricate web of community food providers operating in south Wales. The research has also shed light on the redistribution of surplus food, reducing waste, and optimising the impact of community food initiatives. The study’s findings will enhance the coordination between community food providers, leading to more efficient and effective responses to food insecurity.

Sarah Germain, CEO of FareShare Cymru, said: "collaborative research projects like this one play a vital role in our understanding of community food provision. The findings will undoubtedly contribute to our ongoing efforts to support the strengthening of communities and reduce food waste across Wales."

They also collaborated with Food Cardiff, a multi-agency partnership working to promote healthy, environmentally sustainable, and ethical food across the city, who provided local knowledge and expertise to enhance the study.

Pearl Costello, a sustainability change-maker at Food Sense Wales and Food Cardiff’s coordinator, said: "the research provides valuable insights into the community food landscape in Cardiff and south Wales. As a food partnership, we are co-ordinating on-the-ground food related activity and looking to tackle the root causes of food poverty. Mapping the existing projects is crucial in guiding our collective efforts to avoid duplication, develop short supply chains, and develop sustainable solutions that benefit our communities."

As the research project comes to its conclusion, Professor Wang and Alex Jones, along with the other collaborators, are exploring options to make this online mapping database available to local food network organisations in Wales. They anticipate that the research, bolstered by these significant collaborations, will foster further insightful discussions and inspire collective action to alleviate food poverty and promote sustainable solutions.

The collaborative research project is funded by ESRC IAA funds.

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