Expanding social supermarket and food bank provision in Causeway Coast and Glens Council area – experts by experience and food aid managers’ perspectives

Sinéad Furey, Beth Bell, Louise Scullion, Jenni Archer

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

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Background: Food insecurity is the inability to afford/access food in sufficient quantities in a socially acceptable way or the anxiety of being unable to do so. Interventions have intended to reduce its prevalence and move away from the emergency response to a more sustainable approach by addressing the root causes of poverty rather than simply provide food. Method: A qualitative approach involved in-depth interviews with social supermarket (SSM)/food bank clients (n=10) and managers (n=4) and one focus group with seven statutory/voluntary sector stakeholders. Findings: Many people who need help are not accessing support from food banks/SSMs. The common causal factor for presenting for food aid is reduced income. Security of food donations is not problematic but operating costs are more concerning, with energy prices most cited as a pressing issue. Running costs and funding received are supplemented by substantial volunteer hours. Recipients welcomed how food parcels freed-up money to afford other living essentials – notably energy/fuel, and debt repayments, while sociableness and wraparound support were recognised to be at least as important as food aid. Education was considered key to breaking the cycle of poverty while early intervention and giving people responsibility for their own outcomes were upheld as important prerequisites of any successful intervention. Participants agreed that the system is broken and the underlying causes must be eradicated, with balance being struck between taking away the stigma without institutionalising the need. Implications: This research is informing the Council’s co-design process with stakeholders about how best to expand the SSM model.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished online - 4 Apr 2023
EventSocio Legal Studies Association Annual Conference - Ulster University, Magee Campus, Derry, United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Apr 20236 Apr 2023


ConferenceSocio Legal Studies Association Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Food poverty
  • food banks
  • social supermarkets


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