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.

7 A Cross-Scotland Assessment of the Position of the Trussell Trust Within the Foodbanking Community

7.1 The Trussell Trust provides a considerable amount of data but does not claim its statistics are nationally representative. This section discusses to what extent the statistics published by the Trussell Trust are indicative of the provision and demand for food aid across Scotland. Additionally, a comparative analysis between the client base of Trussell Trust foodbanks and those of other food aid providers is presented.

7.2 This research indicates variability in the extent to which the Trussell Trust figures can be considered indicative of food parcel provision within the case study areas researched. In addition, not having data for the rest of Scotland, combined with the fact that Trussell Trust foodbanks are not the largest providers in all studied locations, means that it is not possible to estimate the share of Trussell Trust's provision in the overall provision nationally. It has also not been possible to estimate the total volume of provision of food parcels in Scotland.

7.3 The total number of people supported via emergency food parcels in Glasgow is substantially higher than the Trussell Trust figures for the same area. As mentioned earlier, the volume of food aid provided by the three Trussell Trust foodbanks is estimated to constitute around 20% of all food parcel provision in the City. By contrast, the two Trussell Trust food parcel distribution centres provide two-thirds of all food parcel aid in Dundee City; is the only provider of food parcels in Inverness; is likely to be the only provider in Fort William, once it opens in October 2013; is the biggest food parcel provider in the Forfar/Kirriemuir area; is the dominant provider in Falkirk; but has no operations in Stirling. On this basis it is suggested that the statistics collected and published by the Trussell Trust can be considered indicative of the scale of food parcel provision in Dundee, Inverness, Angus and Falkirk and for Fort William once the new foodbank opens.

7.4 Trussell Trust statistics are more useful in providing an insight into the dynamics of demand for food parcels. In light of the information gleaned from our interviews, it is suggested that the growth in demand observed by the whole Trussell Trust network between 2011/12 and 2012/13 is a good indication of the trend in demand Scotland-wide. However, the study could only establish generally, rather than precisely, by what factor the demand has grown among non-Trussell Trust food parcel providers. The researchers suggest that in the future Trussell Trust data regarding changes in demand is used as a general indicator of a trend experienced by other food parcel providers, rather than as an exact marker of the change they experience.

7.5 The study found some difference between the client profile of Trussell Trust and non-Trussell Trust foodbanks. The findings suggest that, while this difference may result in a somewhat different dynamics of demand experienced by Trussell Trust and non-Trussell Trust foodbanks, the general trend in terms of demand is the same for all food parcel providers.

7.6 Although the interviews suggest that the dynamics of demand for cooked meals has been similar to the growth in demand for food parcels, a substantial difference was found in the client base profile between Trussell Trust foodbanks and 'soup kitchens'. For this reason the researchers believe that these dynamics may not continue to be parallel in the future, therefore, it is recommended that future data from the Trussell Trust regarding demand for food parcels should not be treated as an indicator of the trend in demand for cooked meals.

7.7 Finally, Trussell Trust statistics pointing at welfare reform and benefit delays as the main reasons for referral have been echoed in interviews with other food parcel providers. It is, therefore, suggested that Trussell Trust data in this area is representative of the trend that food parcel providers have been experiencing nationally. It is reiterated that the study was limited in scope and, therefore, this could only be established in general rather than precise terms.

7.8 The interviews with providers of cooked meals in all eight locations also point at welfare reform as the main factor behind the growth in demand for meals. However, it is possible that other factors, such as trends in local service provision for homeless people, will also have an impact on this client group[20]. It is, therefore, suggested that future Trussell Trust statistics regarding the role that welfare system changes and benefit delays play in fuelling demand should not be assumed to be an indicator of the trend experienced by 'soup kitchens'.


Email: Justine Geyer

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