In August 2022, the Devon, Plymouth and Torbay Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Assembly contracted Devon Community Foundation (DCF) to develop a specialist hub around Food Insecurity to bring together insight, intelligence, innovation and lived experience.
DCF worked with a range of partners to pilot a set of inter-related, small-scale research projects. The objective was to delve deeper into the complex issues facing people in food insecurity. By building on this evidence base, the Food Insecurity Hub aimed to propose models for collective cross-sectoral working focused on tackling food insecurity in the county. In addition to the VCSE Assembly investment, further funding was secured from DCF. Alongside this, Devon County Council commissioned a larger qualitative research project to explore the experience of food insecurity from a qualitative perspective in more detail. In total, six projects were agreed. Research took place between September 2022 and April 2023.
Summaries of each of the research projects can be read below, as well as more detailed information in the.Devon Food Insecurity Hub Report.
We brought together the insight from these projects at the first Devon Food Insecurity Summit in May 2023 at the University of Exeter. As co-hosts, DCF and the DFP invited nearly 50 participants, including researchers, local authorities, and VCSE organisations. The day featured opportunities for cross-sectoral discussions, with the aim of finding collective ways to address an increasingly pressing issue. Some of our participants’ feedback can be seen in the video below.
To build on the momentum from the summit, the Devon Food Partnership has worked with Devon Community Foundation to establish a Devon Food Insecurity Task Group. This group will bring together organisations and individuals with a strategic interest in both tackling and preventing food insecurity to focus on actions and next steps.
Read a brief summary of each of the Food Insecurity Hub’s research projects below. More detailed information can be found in the final Devon Food Insecurity Hub Report.
In addition to the initial Hub projects, Devon Community Foundation has since undertaken Phase One of a project in North Devon engaging those facing food insecurity with local food. Read more below.
Food and Fuel Insecurity in Devon Report
DCC commissioned this survey-based study in 2022, as a follow-up to the one produced 18 months earlier. The full report can be accessed on the Devon County Council Health and Wellbeing website.
The Face of Food Insecurity in Devon
The qualitative ‘twin’ to the report above, this research was commissioned by DCC and conducted by Devon Community Foundation. It seeks to understand the experience of food insecurity in Devon, especially from the perspective of those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, alongside available food support provision, to better understand how we can make this as effective and accessible as possible for everyone.
Working with Schools to Tackle Food Insecurity
Funded through the VCSE Assembly food insecurity hub work strand, this practical action research pilot carried out by Teignbridge CVS explored ways in which the trust and experience of schools within the community could be harnessed to help focus food support on families who are not eligible for free school meals.
The Challenges Facing Families in Food Poverty in Torbay
Through in-depth qualitative interviews with families facing multiple challenges, this project aimed to understand the experience of communities often seen as ‘hard to reach’, particularly with regard to stigma. It was funded through the Devon Community Foundation Community Grants scheme, and conducted through Torbay Community Development Trust.
The Voices of Older Residents in East Devon
Funded by DCC, we aimed through this piece of work to hear the views of older residents about experiences of food insecurity, and barriers to accessing help. We were very pleased with the range of responses, which provide a valuable perspective from an often-overlooked cohort. The work was carried out by the Mushroom Exmouth Community Food Network.
Mental Health & Food Insecurity
Another project focusing on understanding the needs of a marginalised group, this research worked in Exeter to engage with those suffering mental ill-health, and explore its link with food insecurity, either as a factor that might increase vulnerability to it, or as an element raising additional barriers to receiving effective support. The work was funded through the VCSE Assembly, and conducted by the University of Exeter and Love Food CIC.
- Working with Diverse Communities in Plymouth
DCF North Devon Food Project
In summer 2023, Devon Community Foundation worked with residents in North Devon to explore innovative ways to engage people and partners in questions about food insecurity, access to local food, and cooking with local ingredients. Phase Two of the project is currently being developed. Watch the project film and read the final report to find out more about Phase One of the project.