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.

9 Conclusions

9.1 The aim of this scoping study was to consider the provision of food aid in Scotland by identifying food aid providers, to study their methods of operation and to recommend how demand and provision could be monitored. While the short timescale of the project meant that only a limited number of locations could be studied, nevertheless the research managed to map food aid provision in eight places. It covered locations exhibiting a wide range of characteristics, from large urban (Glasgow City) to medium-size urban (Dundee, Inverness, Stirling, Falkirk), to small towns (Forfar and Fort William) and finally to a rural location (Kirriemuir).

9.2 A large number of food parcel providers and 'soup kitchens' were identified in Glasgow city. Although much smaller, Dundee City also has a considerable number of food aid providers, particularly 'soup kitchens'. While the number of food aid providers is relatively small in Inverness and Falkirk, the volume of food parcel aid is high in these two locations. Stirling has few providers and a relatively small volume of food aid. Considering the size of their populations, Kirriemuir/Forfar and surrounding rural areas have a high number of providers and a high volume of food aid.

9.3 Food aid provision in Scotland is delivered by three key categories of organisation: local independent organisations; larger national organisations such as the Salvation Army and the Missionaries of Charity; and finally, the Trussell Trust franchise. Most food aid providers have a connection with a religious institution.

9.4 Foodbanks franchised under the Trussell Trust umbrella collect statistics on the number of food parcels given out, as well as on the profile of their clients, including the reason for referral. The statistics shows that 23,073 people in Scotland were provided by Trussell Trust with emergency food parcels between April and September 2013[21]. As this study did not map food aid provision in the whole of Scotland, it is not possible to state what proportion of food aid in Scotland is delivered by the Trussell Trust. However, the study has been successful in collecting evidence that sheds light on the representativeness of recent Trussell Trust data regarding the dynamics of the demand for food parcels, and the role that changes in the benefit system are playing in fuelling this growth in demand. On both counts, the study's findings suggest that recent Trussell Trust data is broadly indicative of the situation experienced by other food parcel providers across Scotland. Between Spring 2012 and Spring 2013 the Trust has seen a 170% increase in demand. Over half of referrals were related to benefit delays or benefit change/withdrawal, an 11% increase on the previous year.

9.5 The interviews conducted for this research suggest that monitoring the size and dynamics of food aid provision is possible, as is monitoring the impact of welfare reform on food aid. The challenges with the former task include identifying very small providers, arriving at a valid 'parcel/household' multiplier and estimating the proportion of repeat users. The difficulties with monitoring the impact of welfare reform on food aid include engaging key food parcel providers in a 'snapshot' annual survey.


Email: Justine Geyer

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