Hungry for Health

New report reveals what citizens really want from food

9th February 2022

Who really benefits when food is cheap? Governments, global food businesses and supermarket advertising campaigns tell us we want 'cheap' food. Politicians and policy makers make sympathetic noises about fair prices for food producers but argue that food must be affordable, especially for the ‘poor’. But what does affordable mean to people, and how do those who are experiencing food insecurity make decisions about what to feed themselves and their family every day?

In autumn 2021, we set out to understand the stories behind the statistics and began work with a food charity that is trying to do something different. Food charity Food in Community is based in Totnes, Devon. It's perceived as an affluent area, but it’s a community like many others where wealth sits alongside poverty. It's also well networked and resourced - so it’s well placed to pilot innovative approaches to food charity.

As we spoke to people it became clear: even those struggling the most to afford food feel that ‘affordable’ is about much more than price.
 People are doing what they can to get good quality, fresh food within their budgets, but the food most easily available is unhealthy.

Luckily, these people were benefitting from, and participating in, the practical and radical solutions that Food in Community is piloting.

Like many community food organisations around the country, they are connecting the people they support more directly with local growers producing healthy food.

Overall, the story that emerges from this research is that citizens already hold many of the solutions that go beyond sound bites or advertising slogans. Organisations like Food in Community are succeeding in providing those in need with what they actually need and want.

The people we spoke to were clear that food that is good ‘value for money’ is good for people and good for the planet.

This study adds to a growing body of work showing citizens’ strong desires for quality food, regardless of their financial situation, and for more community and social connection through food.

Download the report above.