Food Banks of the United Kingdom, how effective are they at providing services for people in need, and thus are they having a positive of negative effect on food insecurity in the UK.
Robinson, H. (2016) Food Banks of the United Kingdom, how effective are they at providing services for people in need, and thus are they having a positive of negative effect on food insecurity in the UK., no. 44.
Objectives: This study aimed to interview customers of the Whitburn Trussel Trust Food Bank in West Lothian in order to determine how effective the food bank is at providing services for people in need. The interview will also include questions on what improvements could be made to the food bank inviting the customer's opinion. The information gathered from these questions will be given provided to the food bank and it is hoped that this research will provide the food bank with useful information that they can potentially put into practice. Design: Five people at the Whitburn Food Bank in West Lothian were interviewed about the services provided by the food bank and their own experiences there using a questionnaire complied by the interviewer. Results: The majority of findings were in keeping with the relevant literature. Referral methods, through local council aswell as reasons for referral, benefits delays and sanctions and low income were all given by interviewees, all of which is in keeping with the literature on this topic. Those who use the Whitburn food bank are most often single or in single parent families. The interviewees each had used the service a number of different times an felt that the limit on the use of The Trussell Trust food banks was too harsh and people should be allowed to use the service more frequently if require or on a case by case basis. Staff of the food bank however had a contrasting opinion believing this limit on usage to be adequate if benefit delay is involved but should be more flexible. Family is most often cited when clients of the food bank cannot avail of its services. All food stuffs from the food parcels are used by the clients or swapped if they will not use a certain item. Lack of food knowledge, dietary issues, lack of appliances and utensils are all cited as reasons for not being able to use all food provided by the food bank. Staff and clients would like to see a wider range of food available especially fresh and frozen aswell as recipes for food parcels. All clients felt financial services and cooking lessons if offered in the food bank would be a good idea and would take part if required. These services are offered in conjunction with the food bank but have had a poor uptake. Finally feelings on using the food banks services are unanimous with embarrassment and appreciation being cited. All clients felt the food bank offered an excellent and welcoming service. Conclusions: Further research is required in the field of food banks to further determine how to aid those affected by food poverty. The UK government urgently needs to assess the policies on benefits and sanctions aswell as the minimum wage in order to prevent those in need from using food banks and to reduce food insecurity in the UK.