Overview of Food Aid Provision in Scotland

This reports on a small-scale study of the food aid landscape in Scotland which mapped food parcel services and 'soup kithen' providers across eight locations in Scotland. Insights into their operations, monitoring systems and client base are presented alongside an exploration of

the potential for monitoring scale and demand and the extent to which figures published by the Trussell Trust are representative of the Scotland wide situation.

4 Glasgow City

Methodological note

4.1 In order to map food aid provision in Glasgow City, the researchers used online searches followed by enquiries with 'key informants': The Trussell Trust, Glasgow City Council Social Work Department, FareShare and Glasgow Destitution Network. Subsequently, all identified food aid providers were contacted by email with a request for feedback on the completeness of the list of providers. Glasgow City Council carried out a similar mapping exercise early in 2013. However, the list of food aid providers resulting from that exercise (see Annex) needed a considerable update, reflecting the dynamism of the food aid sector in the City.

4.2 The researchers have a high level of confidence that the list of providers in Glasgow City is comprehensive, although it is possible that one or two providers have not been identified. In addition, one or two providers on the list may not be operational any more. Although the researchers attempted to contact all identified providers, some did not respond and second-hand information from other providers had to be relied on.

4.3 Due to the large number of food aid providers operating in Glasgow City, the researchers were able to interview only a sample of them. Eight semi-structured telephone interviews were carried out with 'key players' in food aid provision across the City. The eight providers interviewed for this project represent seven food parcel services and three 'soup kitchens'.

Food aid landscape in Glasgow

4.4 As of mid-September 2013, 35 organisations were identified as providing food aid in Glasgow City, see Table 2, between them delivering 26 food parcel services and 27 'soup kitchens'. These figures do not include FareShare Glasgow, a project of MoveOn. FareShare does not work directly with individuals but provides food to organisations who work in the field of food poverty. FareShare Glasgow supplies more than 70 tonnes of food to its six Community Food Members per annum, and between January and September 2013 it provided food for 32,000 meals. All six Community Food Members are identified as FareShare members in Table 2.

4.5 Due to a large number of 'soup kitchens' in Glasgow City, the researchers could not probe the exact scale of the provision of cooked meals across the City.

Trussell Trust foodbanks in Glasgow

4.6 As of mid-September 2013 three out of the 26 identified food parcel providers in Glasgow City belong to the Trussell Trust network. Of these three, one (Glasgow SE Foodbank) is well established, one has recently emerged (Glasgow NW Foodbank launched in April 2013) and one is very new (Glasgow NE Foodbank opened in September 2013). The fourth (Glasgow SW Foodbank) is expected to be operational before Christmas 2013.

4.7 With respect to individual providers, Trussell Trust's Glasgow NW Foodbank is one of the largest food parcel providers in the City. It ranked as equal second out of the 17 who provided the study with data in terms of the number of parcels distributed per month (220-260). For comparison, the top provider distributes an average of 350 parcels per month. However, it is worth emphasising that even the largest individual provider of food parcels in Glasgow City cannot be described as 'dominant'.

Table 2: Food aid providers in Glasgow*

Organisation Service Food parcels Meals No. of parcels per month Number of meals Address Postcode FareShare Member
Queen's Park Baptist Church Beacon Centre Soup Kitchen 180 Queen's Drive G42 8QD
Bridging the Gap Bridging the Gap Food Parcel Soup Kitchen 22* St Francis Hall, 405 Cumberland St G5 0SE
Partick South Parish Church, Cafe 25:35 Soup Kitchen 259 Dumbarton Rd G11 6AB
Food Parcel & Soup Kitchen Food Parcel Soup Kitchen DNA Yes
Central and West Integration Network Central and West Integration Network Food Parcel Soup Kitchen 110-120** Garnethill Multicultural Centre, 21 Rose St G3 6RE Yes
Chanan Chanan Soup Kitchen Tower Block, 162 St Vincent Lane G2 7LQ
Glasgow City Mission Food Parcel Soup Kitchen 200* 20 Crimea St G2 8PW
Club 170 Club 170 Soup Kitchen Queen's Park Parish Church G42 8QZ
Crossroads YCA Crossroads YCA Food Parcel Soup Kitchen DNA Govanhill Free Church, Belleisle St G42 8HJ
Destiny Church Destiny Angels Food Parcel 350* 32 South Portland St G5 9JL
Destiny Church Soup Kitchen (Mobile) Cadogan St G2 7AB
Emmaus Emmaus Outreach Soup Kitchen (Mobile) Cadogan St G2 7AB
Emmaus Outreach Soup Kitchen (Mobile) Balvicar St G42 8QU
FARE FARE Food parcels Food Parcel DNA Bannatyne House, Drumlanrig Ave G34 0JF
Give Take Give Take Soup Kitchen (Mobile) Cadogan St G2 7AB
Govan and Craigton Integration Network GCIN Destitution Project Food Parcel Soup Kitchen 25** Pearce Institute, 840 Govan Rd G51 3UU
Greater Maryhill Foodbank Food Parcel DNA
Greater Pollok Integration Network Greater Pollok Integration Network Food Parcel 4.5** Flat 1, 70 Kennishead Ave G46 8RP
Loaves and Fishes*** Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen 40 per week St Patrick's Church, North St G3 7DA
Lodging House Mission Lodging House Mission Soup Kitchen 35 East Campbell St G1 5DT
Missionaries of Charity Missionaries of Charity Soup Kitchen 186 Braidcraft Rd G53 5DZ
New Life Church New Life Church Food Parcel Soup Kitchen DNA Shettleston Rd G31 5JL
Positive Action in Housing Food Parcel 110* 98 West George St G2 1PJ Yes
Preshal Trust Feeding Programme Food Parcel DNA 8 Aboukir St G51 4QX
Rokpa Trust Kagyu Samye Dzong Glasgow Food Parcel Soup Kitchen (Mobile) DNA 7 Ashley St G2 7AB Yes
Salt and Light Bus Salt and Light Bus Soup Kitchen (Mobile) Waterloo St G2 7DA
Salvation Army Salvation Army Soup Kitchen Laurieston Centre, 37 South Portland St G5 9JL
Easterhouse Foodbank Food Parcel 15**
Sharpe Memorial Church Soup Kitchen Food Parcel Soup Kitchen DNA 12-14 Burgher St G31 4TB
St. Rollox Church St. Rollox Church Food Parcel 80-100** 9 Fountainwell Rd G21 1TN
The Humanist Society The Humanist Society Soup Kitchen (Mobile) Cadogan St G2 7AB
The Marie Trust The Marie Trust Food Parcel Soup Kitchen 90-120** 30 loaves per day 32 Midland St G1 4PR Yes
St Columba's Church The Shiloh Soup Kitchen 300 St Vincent St G2 6RU
The Society of St Vincent De Paul Frederic Ozanam Centre Soup Kitchen 9 Bridgegate G1 5HX
Food Parcel DNA
Trussell Trust Glasgow SE foodbank Food Parcel 168* 42 Inglefield St G42 7AT
Glasgow NW Foodbank Food Parcel 220-260* Blawarthill Parish Church, Millbrix Ave G14 0EP
Glasgow NE Foodbank Food Parcel 96 people in first 2 months of operation
Unity in the Community++ Food Parcel Food Parcel 80-150** G4 9HZ
Vineyard Storehouse Food Parcel 240** 4 Linden St G13 1DQ Yes
Whiteinch Church of Scotland Love Whiteinch Foodbank Food Parcel 90** 35 Inchlee St G14 9HQ

- Based on most recent figures
** - Average DNA - Data Not Available for this study
*** - Loaves and Fishes have a foodbank in East Kilbride and a meal service in Glasgow City. At the East Kilbride foodbank they distribute on average 120 parcels per month.
++ - Unity stopped providing meals when they moved to new premises but are hoping to re-start the service. They were providing 35 meals per week4.8 When all three Trussell Trust foodbanks are considered as one provider, the volume of food parcel aid provided by them (estimated to be approximately 20%) constitutes a minority of total City-wide food parcel provision. This figure is somewhat speculative, as data was obtained from 17 out of 26 food parcel providers. At the same time, however, it is an informed estimate, as respondents suggested that the volume of provision being delivered by the nine food parcel providers who did not engage with this study is considerably smaller than the provision from the 17 for whom data was obtained.

4.9 It is worth noting that the Trussell Trust's share of food parcel provision City-wide is likely to increase when the third Trussell Trust foodbank in the City, Glasgow NE, and the fourth one, Glasgow SW, become more established.

4.10 It is worth emphasising that Trussell Trust foodbanks do not offer cooked meals at all and, therefore, it would not be appropriate to attempt to estimate their share in the provision of all food aid, i.e. that including food parcels and cooked meals.

4.11 It has been emphasised by some respondents, not affiliated with the Trussell Trust network, that Trussell Trust foodbanks are different in character from the rest of food parcel providers in the City in three respects:

(1) Trussell Trust foodbanks operate a formal referral voucher system and only very few clients are self-referred. The second biggest food parcel provider was the only other respondent provider who uses referral vouchers. This provider, however, also accepts self-referrals which constitute around 50% of its client base.
(2) The Trussell Trust client base is not 'traditional' as it includes very few homeless clients or destitute asylum seekers. Linked to that, some non-Trussell Trust respondents believed that an average Trussell Trust client tends to experience a one-off crisis (e.g. transition in benefits) rather than long-standing issues.
(3) Food aid is the sole function of Trussell Trust foodbanks. All non-Trussell Trust respondents, including 'key players', emphasised that, unlike the Trussell Trust, they carry out wider operations such as provision of meals, clothing distribution, signposting, emotional support and other functions.

4.12 Regarding the second point above, it seems that the reason behind the suggestion that Trussell Trust foodbanks have more clients experiencing a one-off crisis than clients with long-standing issues is that the Trust, unlike other food parcel services, restricts support to three consecutive food parcels. This is intended to prevent dependency (longer term support is available at the discretion of the foodbank manager)[15]. This does not mean, however, that other foodbanks do not see clients experiencing a one-off crisis, for example, half of all clients who use services of the second largest food parcel provider in our sample are one-off clients.

4.13 With regards to recent and future expansion of the Trussell Trust network, all existing Trussell Trust foodbanks in Glasgow have been set up 'from scratch' rather than established food parcel providers 'becoming' Trussell Trust foodbanks. None of the food parcel respondents expressed the intention to join the Trussell Trust network.

4.14 A respondent representing a Trussell Trust foodbank said that in the future she expects to see more distribution points of existing Trussell Trust foodbanks being set up rather than new self-standing Trussell Trust foodbanks.

4.15 Non-Trussell Trust affiliated respondents thought that the Trussell Trust network will probably grow further. The reasons suggested for that included (1) the existence of a need underlying the demand; (2) the fact that Trussell Trust have been quite pro-active in their expansion; (3) that there are advantages to the Trussell Trust model, e.g. some supermarkets are already tied to the network and, therefore, new foodbanks can take advantage of that immediately; (4) that the Trussell Trust does a "good job" in fulfilling a need for those who want to start a service but do not know how to do it.

Operations, supply sources and changes in demand


4.16 From the interviews it became apparent that there are three distinct types of clients in Glasgow City: homeless White Scottish people who tend to have long-standing issues, such as substance dependency or poor mental health; destitute migrants (this group also tends to be homeless or threatened with homelessness and mainly comprises asylum seekers whose application for asylum has been rejected); and White Scottish people who are housed but who have little or no income.

4.17 All but one provider interviewed for this study do not put any restrictions on who can use their food aid services. However, as stated by a respondent from Glasgow Destitution Network, some providers are 'orientated' towards destitute asylum seekers and refugees (according to this respondent, this includes Bridging the Gap, Central and West Integration Network, Govan and Craigton Integration Network, Greater Pollok Integration Network, New Life Church, Sharpe Memorial Church, St Rollox Church and Unity). The high number of such providers reflects the fact that Glasgow is the only asylum seeker dispersal point in Scotland.


4.18 Respondent providers spoke of several routes of referral, including self-referral and signposting by Glasgow City Council Social Work staff, health professionals and health visitors, addiction services, homelessness charities, Money Advice centres, Housing Associations and Jobcentres.

4.19 Two respondent organisations, who operate a formal referral voucher system (Glasgow SE Foodbank and Storehouse), stated that they do not choose which professionals to work with and work with anyone "who wants to work with them".

4.20 While the study did not specifically ask food parcel services about the typical frequency of clients' visits, it seemed that only Trussell Trust foodbanks have record management systems allowing for answering this question precisely. The Storehouse, the equal second largest food parcel provider interviewed for this study, reported that around 50% of clients come just once but some have used the service as many times as 40. As for Trussell Trust, information provided by Glasgow SE Foodbank shows that the vast majority of clients are not repeat clients. Only 50 of the 1,200 clients who have used the foodbank since April this year used more than one voucher, and only 11 used three or more vouchers. This data fits with the respondents' opinion that the client base of the Trust's foodbanks is less 'traditional' and consists mainly of people experiencing a one-off crisis.

Demand - latent, changing and underlying reasons

4.21 Some respondents thought that there are people in need who are "under the radar" and consequently do not get referred to food aid providers. As one interviewee put it, "It's a hard thing to say you need food". Another interviewee pointed at the fact that there is unmet need in those poverty hotspots where there are no foodbanks or where foodbanks are unable to meet the demand.

4.22 All respondents (including meal providers) spoke about a rise in demand for food aid in the last two years. The respondent from Glasgow SE Foodbank said that her foodbank fed 682 people over 2012/13 but it had already fed 1,200 between April and August this year. Similarly, the Storehouse has observed a four-fold increase in demand since 2012. Some respondents expressed a particular concern over the fact that their services feed an alarmingly high and growing number of children. One provider has decided to include nappies in its emergency food parcels.

4.23 Of relevance in this context, one respondent thought that there was a good number of 'soup kitchens' in Glasgow catering for homeless people but a problem meeting demand for food parcels from people who do have housing but are living on very low incomes.

4.24 As for the reasons behind this recent rise in demand for food parcels and cooked meals, the majority of respondents pointed at the changes to the benefit system. The 'bedroom tax', benefit sanctions and benefit transfers resulting in payment 'gaps' were thought to be the main three reasons for clients not having enough income to buy food. Some also spoke of their clients being forced to use food aid because of not having enough working hours (or having lost overtime). One respondent observed that the rise in demand may partly be attributed to growing awareness of foodbanks among potential clients, mainly due to foodbanks being highlighted in the media and to the 'word of mouth' spreading wider and wider.


4.25 While the interviews did not actively explore providers' funding arrangements, those respondents who mentioned the subject said that their income comes from sources such as their own charity shops, Glasgow City Council grants and financial donations.

Supply Sources and Stock Management

4.26 With regards to supply sources, respondents listed the following (in no particular order):

- FareShare
- individual donations
- corporate donations
- supermarket collections
- donations from schools
- overspill from other food aid providers

4.27 This last route of sourcing food shows that there is a degree of cooperation between food aid providers in the City. Relevant in this context, only one interviewee thought there is competition for supply between food aid providers.

4.28 Some respondents said that they do not run out of food donations but sometimes their stock is low and, therefore, stock level is a constant concern. One respondent food parcel provider had to limit the geographical scope of operations as its volume of stock was not high enough to meet all demand. However, the second largest food parcel provider in our sample stated that the organisation has enough supply to increase the operations but is restricted by a limited number of volunteers.

4.29 All food parcel providers interviewed for this study sort and store food on their premises.

Monitoring systems and scope for their expansion

4.30 The interviews revealed a picture of robust monitoring among Trussell Trust foodbanks and a patchy record management among other food aid providers.

4.31 Trussell Trust foodbanks are obliged to record age, ethnicity, household composition, reason for referral and the number of parcels provided to the client. Some of the non-Trussell Trust providers just keep a note of client's name and address. At the other end of the spectrum, one provider records age, gender, household composition, reason for referral and frequency of visits but not ethnicity or nationality. Another provider records all demographic information but not all clients have a record.

4.32 All organisations interviewed keep records of the number of food parcels and meals provided every month. Most keep records of the number of their volunteers.

4.33 When asked about the possibility of expanding their monitoring systems, most respondents said that they do not see the need for that as their systems "do what they [respondents] want". In general, respondents do not want to collect data that is not relevant to their operations. One respondent stated that she is "interested in feeding the hungry, not collecting data".

4.34 Respondents were sceptical about the possibility of arriving at a Scotland-wide, reliable demographic profile of the client base. Most importantly, some suggested that "good recording costs money" and, therefore, many providers (particularly smaller ones) would not want to expand their monitoring systems. Additionally, as provider organisations differ in many respects, no monitoring system would "fit them all". Also of importance, some respondents said they would be reluctant to pass on client records to the Scottish Government or other providers.

4.35 One respondent suggested that perhaps a count could be conducted in one month every year. According to this respondent, the organisation driving such an exercise would need to make sure that the client record form is simple.


Email: Justine Geyer

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