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.

5 Dundee City

Methodological note

5.1 An approach similar to the one employed for Glasgow City was adopted for Dundee City, Stirling, Falkirk, Fort William, Inverness, Kirriemuir and Forfar. Through online searches, providers of food aid were identified and the 'Dundee Drop-In Services' pamphlet was useful in confirming information on food aid in the city[17]. The collated information represents all food aid providers operating in Dundee City at the time of this study.

5.2 Following email enquiries, telephone interviews were carried out. Four interviews were conducted with Dundee-based food aid providers and a further four interviews covered the other study areas. Additional phone calls were made to acquire specific information relating to the number of people who were accessing food aid provision in the more rural areas and to check on services provided. In total, six of the interviews represented food parcel providers (formal and informal) and the other two interviews were with charities involved with food aid. Of these charities, one (FareShare) is not considered a 'food parcel provider'. They supply food to organisations which provide food aid. The second charity is one which is involved with local communities and offers information on food aid provision in the city.

Food Aid landscape in Dundee City

5.3 Food aid provision in Dundee City is diverse and interconnected. The number of people accessing the various sources of food aid available throughout the city is increasing. The spectrum of food aid accessible in Dundee City ranges from shelter and meals provided daily for residents through The Salvation Army to the informal provision of a weekly meal, through projects like the Parish Nursing Drop In Clinic. Of the 12 food aid services identified in Dundee, see Table 3, 11 are run by faith based organisations, two are provided by The Salvation Army and four currently provide food parcels. Food parcels only represent a small proportion of the food aid available. In Dundee, the two Trussell Trust distribution centres are the only food aid providers operating on a referral basis, all other food aid providers can be accessed informally.

Trussell Trust foodbanks in Dundee

5.4 Overall, the research suggests that the Trussell Trust, which currently operates two distribution centres in Dundee and, with plans to open a further three, represents a significant proportion of the food parcel community in the city but not necessarily the wider food aid community. In this respect, one respondent commented on how the growth of the Trussell Trust and the media attention has "highlighted foodbanking...and poverty [there is] more awareness about the whole food agenda". Another interviewee commented that through foodbanking 'there is definitely a need to be addressed". A number of Dundee's food aid providers were established in recent years, such as the Bus Stop Drop In in 2009 and the Bridge Community Project (run by Bethany Christian Trust) in 2012. Both of these services provide meals and support, with the Bus Stop Drop In primarily feeding people who have addictions. By comparison, the Eagles Wings Trust has provided a 'soup kitchen' since 2000. The Dundee Foodbank was originally part of the Discovery food programme, which began in 2005, becoming part of the Trussell Trust network in 2011. The other key food parcel provider in Dundee is the Food Cupboard which runs weekly from St Salvador's church and is not affiliated with the Trussell Trust. This was also established in 2005.

5.5 The Trussell Trust's expansion can be viewed as compatible with the existing food aid landscape. As one respondent, not affiliated with the Trussell Trust commented, "I don't think it duplicates [other services], I think it is complementary".

Table 3: Food aid providers in Dundee

Organisation Service Food parcels Meals No. of parcels per month Average no. of meals per month Address Postcode
The Trussell Trust The Dundee Foodbank: Office & Distribution centre Food parcel 450 for all Dundee Full Gospel Church, 58 Constitution St, Dundee DD3 6NE
The Dundee Foodbank: Distribution centre Food parcel Menzieshill Parish Church, Charleston Drive, Dundee, DD2 4BD
The Salvation Army Strathmore Lodge Ad hoc food parcels Meals for residents 12 700 31 Ward Rd, Dundee DD1 1NG
The Salvation Army Drop In Soup kitchen 120
Eagles Wings Trust Eagles Wings Trust Soup kitchen 400 - 560 213 Hilltown, Dundee DD3 7AG
The Food Cupboard The Food Cupboard Food parcel Soup kitchen 240 St Salvador's Church, St Salvador's St, Dundee DD3 7EW
The Drop-Inn The Drop-Inn Soup kitchen 160 191 High St, Lochee, Dundee DD2 1SX
Big Issue Drop In Club Big Issue Drop In Club Soup kitchen DNA Meadowside St Paul's Church, 114-118 Nethergate, Dundee DD1 4EH
Parish Nursing Drop In Clinic Parish Nursing Drop In Clinic Soup kitchen DNA The Steeple Church (Church of Scotland), Nethergate, Dundee DD1 4DG
The Bridge Community Project The Bridge Community Project Soup kitchen 80 The Friary, Tullideph Rd, Dundee DD2 2PN
FareShare/Transform Dundee Food redistribution Beginning food parcel distribution DNA Unit 1, Block 22, Kilspindie Rd, Dunsinane Industrial Estate, Dundee DD2 3JP
Gate Church International Bus Stop Drop In Soup kitchen 40 158 Perth Rd, Dundee DD1 4JS
Graham's Soup Kitchen Graham's Soup Kitchen Soup kitchen DNA High St, Dundee DD1 1TD

DNA - Data not available for this study 5.6 One of the key messages to emerge from the Dundee City based research is that the clientele differ between the more formal Trussell Trust foodbanks and the more informal food aid providers. One interviewee commented on how the non-Trussell Trust foodbank in Dundee, the Food Cupboard, has "a core of people who go". Another observed that the Food Cupboard does "get people coming back...and new little groups of young people who are green and raw". Such observations cannot be attributed to the Trussell Trust foodbanks as they provide three crisis food parcels, rather than regularly providing food aid to specific people. They have a different dynamic with clientele. Comparing clients who use the Dundee Foodbank with the Drop In Services, one respondent commented: "I think they might differ...many people who use the drop in... would never have the capacity to go and collect anything. I get the sense there isn't a lot of overlap".

5.7 Therefore, the statistics provided by the Trussell Trust are useful indicators and represent a percentage of those who use food aid, but they are not necessarily representative of the intricacies and complexity of the food aid picture in Dundee.

Operations, supply sources and changes in demand

5.8 Food providers are expanding and developing in response to increased demand for food aid, as the three following examples illustrate.

5.9 FareShare/Transform has been operating since 2001. Transform is an organisation based in Dundee which provides a range of services aimed at meeting the needs of vulnerable people. It operates the FareShare franchise in Dundee. As previously mentioned, FareShare redistribute food to organisations which then provide it to individuals. Transform provide both perishable and non-perishable foods. They support all of the Dundee area as well as Perth and Arbroath, redistributing over 200 tonnes of food annually, approximately 16 tonnes of food per month. It is anticipated that Transform will also expand into Fife and other parts of Scotland. Transform operate Monday to Friday and, through a recent Lottery funding bid, they are going to expand into also providing food parcels. Transform will deliver food parcels to people who are unable to get to foodbanks themselves to collect the food, which is the key operational difference between them and the other foodbanks in Dundee. The motivation for this is not just to provide to older people and disabled people, but also to assist those who cannot afford to travel to a foodbank to collect a food parcel. However, their operation is not without its challenges. Transform does not receive any direct funding and has to raise money entirely through bids and fund raising, which is particularly difficult with an organisation which is primarily volunteer run. Transform has also had to levy a charge on their food deliveries to their various food aid providers in order to cover petrol costs.

5.10 The Trussell Trust Dundee Foodbank previously provided food parcel deliveries until it became too expensive, compounded by an increase in demand for more food parcels. Efforts were, therefore, concentrated on expanding the foodbank. Currently, the Dundee Foodbank has two distribution centres, one in Constitution Street (open Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm) and the other in Menzieshill (open Monday, Wednesday & Friday, 1-4pm). These distribution centres see "different clientele, but it is purely geographical. It sounds a bit glib to say it is a matter of convenience but it is". The foodbank is expanding operations and it is anticipated that three additional distribution centres in the Strathmartin ward will be providing food parcels by the beginning of October[18]. This expansion helps to reach different people and those less able to access the two existing distribution centres.

5.11 The Food Cupboard at St Salvador's church operates and distributes food parcels differently to the Trussell Trust Dundee Foodbank, as it does not require vouchers or referrals. Everyone who visits the church on a Sunday receives a bag of food. Its development has been much more organic since it began in 2005. The parishioners began to collect non-perishable goods and gave them out on an ad hoc basis each Sunday. Through word of mouth, the Food Cupboard began to grow and numbers continue to increase. Within 18 months around 25 people were coming each week and at the time of this study, there were around 50 people every Sunday. The general trend has been a continual increase in the number of people going to the Food Cupboard and 80 is the most they have had on any one occasion. Today the Food Cupboard also provides soup, home baking, pies, fruit and hot drinks for those who come for food parcels. Religious guidance is available upon request. Users tend to be regular visitors and assistance is not just food. One interviewee commented that it is "a safe place and a listening ear, people are shown respect, the sense of companionship, the friendliness is amazing"'. Although the Food Cupboard is increasing the number of food parcels it distributes, it is not expanding geographically unlike Transform and the Trussell Trust Dundee foodbank.

Increasing Client Demand

5.12 The overwhelming response from food aid providers in Dundee City was that demand for their services was increasing, particularly within the last six months. A Trussell Trust affiliated respondent noted that their food aid service had seen "a substantial increase...almost double the provision from last year, somewhere in the region of an 80% increase".

5.13 A number of interviewees ascribed the increasing demand for food aid to welfare issues:

"This morning I've had a delay due to switching from job seekers to employment support, I've had two sanctions...sanctions are something that only happened very very rarely. Payments have been reduced, it is definitely affecting more soon as you change benefits there is gap... there is definitely a knock on effect."

"I suspect [food aid] has been increasing because of things like the bedroom tax, increasing because many people will have lost jobs in the recession, other people will have got themselves in bother through pay day loans. There is a lot of concern about how people will cope. Part of it is that the benefits have never really gone up..."

"Welfare changes...there is often a muddle."

5.14 A number of respondents noted that Dundee City has a high level of deprivation in certain areas of the city, therefore, welfare reform can only be part of the wider picture even if it does appear to have a significant impact on increased demand at present. Many of the food aid providers in Dundee also deal with people who suffer from additions, such as "beloved waifs" who are drug addicts and alcoholics, people who live chaotic lives.

Supply Sources

5.15 Supply sources in Dundee were described as "all fragmented". In this context, one respondent suggested that:

"the [Trussell Trust] foodbank has a good system, an excellent system...and everyone wants to give to the Trussell Trust foodbank. People often raise food and it is the foodbank they give it to. Eagles Wings have to do a lot in would be useful for churches to have collections not always for the foodbank, but for these other services as well because they struggle."

5.16 Certainly, the relationship that the Trussell Trust has with Tesco would suggest that they have some sort of dominance in terms of regularly accessing food. The Trussell Trust collect food at Tesco through national collections twice a year and typically have additional collections at other times in the year. Tesco give the Trussell Trust foodbank 30% of the value of all food they collect. The Dundee Foodbank has another 12 collections a year at Tesco Extra stores, with the most recent national collection raising 6.5 tonnes of food, described by a respondent as "stupendous amounts".

5.17 Transform also has an expanding food supply, with relationships with Tesco, Asda, M&S and the Co-op, and supply is seen by one interviewee as "a little bit more secure now...supermarkets are getting more involved". Typically supermarkets will give out food which falls within a particular 'date code' (food which they don't sell after a certain period) and they pass it on to providers, such as Transform, to redistribute within date. Of note here is that Transform supplies perishable food as well as non-perishable items. In addition to food from supermarkets, the local community also supplies donations to food aid providers. Other supply sources for food aid providers include supporters of the related faith based organisations, local residents and food purchased with money raised through fundraising. The Food Cupboard does not see itself in direct competition with the Dundee Foodbank for supply, as they are different types of providers.

5.18 In response to the question of consistent food supply, it was suggested that government legislation could help to support food aid providers in the future. One respondent suggested that new legislation would also reduce landfill waste and costs to supermarkets in just "one swipe". This could be achieved by:

"telling food businesses to do something else with their food…..your first port of call would be to offer food to these [providers] before it goes to landfill, because Scotland sometimes feels like a backwater...I would love to see the Scottish Government getting involved with this."

5.19 A number of respondents commented that, as they expected the food aid landscape in Dundee to continue to expand, such growth may put more pressure on supply sources, funding and overall operations.

Monitoring systems and scope for their expansion

5.20 With the exception of the Trussell Trust and Transform in Dundee, interviews with providers suggest that very little monitoring is consistently carried out by smaller, informal food aid providers. Transform are monitored by their suppliers and Transform monitor the organisations that receive their redistributed food. They have a database of information, but as they do not provide specific details on the end users of the food aid they provide, it would be difficult to provide monitoring which captured the impacts of welfare reform. One interviewee stated that "there is probably more that we could record, but I would be very wary about trying to record any more detail...I don't think that could be significantly improved without changing drastically how we operate".

5.21 With the smaller, more informal services, increased (or even more regular and detailed) monitoring could be problematic for their clients. One interviewee suggested that keeping only a regular count of those accessing the food aid service would be possible and preferable, rather than actively collecting client information. Detailed monitoring may even prevent people from going to receive food aid, as one interviewee suggested "it would discourage is the anonymity [which they value]". Others suggested that using focus groups and discussions with clients would, however, prove useful and informative, rather than using a formulaic approach.

5.22 Several respondents commented on the challenge of funding and how a greater level of monitoring may be possible if more funding was made available.


Email: Justine Geyer

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