We rescue food in order to rescue people

Sarah Belton , Tanya Lawlis, Maggie Jamieson

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


Background/Aims: An estimated 1.2 million (5-8%) Australians experience food insecurity. In Australia, around 3-4000 charitable food programs offer food aid and support to individuals in need. While research has focused on charity operations, effectiveness, and policy development, little is understood in terms of the relationship between charities, food and the client. The aim of this study was to explore food access and the role of charities in providing food to their clients. Methods: A qualitative case study analysis of three food charities was undertaken. Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with a manager, a staff member and a volunteer from each. Observational data was gathered over a one week period in each charity to observe food preparation, service and client/staff relationship around food provision. Data was analysed independently by the researchers and key themes derived.
Results: Four key themes were identified; donations and budget restrictions, food provision and access, food quality and food as a tool for social, mental, and dietary support. Food was essential in making contact and establishing relationships, building trust and demonstrating mutual respect. However, funding and resource limitations heavily influenced the quantity and quality of food at each charity. Conclusions: Although the charities experience food insecurity, charity staff and volunteers viewed the quality of food as highly important, and the various supportive roles established through food are used as communicative tools for establishing relationships. Future research is needed in Australia to investigate the provision of food from the client's perspective thus further advancing client contact and support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Nutrition and Intermediary Metabolism
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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