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New and old forms of poverty in Spain: exploring food consumption during the crisis

Cecilia Díaz-Méndez (Department of Sociology, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain)
Isabel García-Espejo (Department of Sociology, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain)
Sonia Otero-Estévez (Department of Sociology, Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 9 April 2020

Issue publication date: 27 July 2020

246

Abstract

Purpose

The economic crisis has renewed public debate in Europe about food poverty, drawing attention to the insecurity suffered by some social groups that are not apparent in official surveys. The purpose of this paper is to examine how those affected deal with food poverty, along with their perceptions and assessments of being poor in the context of the economic crisis.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on a qualitative study through 24 in-depth interviews with people seeking food aid from the Red Cross Non-Governmental Organization. The special focus here is comparison of two types of households: those affected for the first time by the economic crisis and new to seeking food aid and those who have claimed food aid since before the crisis.

Findings

The results show that, despite similarities of situation, the two groups deal with food poverty differently. The “old” group rely on skills derived from experience and have more complex survival strategies. The “new” group react by adjusting how they obtain food, but limited knowledge of the environment and inexperience in dealing with the situation restricts their options. Their different ways of dealing with deprivation are related to how they interpret the crisis and their perception of themselves as receivers of food aid.

Social implications

These results underline the importance of food aid for both types of household presenting the State as a necessary safety net for them to cope successfully with crisis and rise from poverty.

Originality/value

This comparison offers a novel contribution to traditional studies of food poverty because it deepens knowledge of a little known group and enables us to advance some explanations of how the passage of time impacts food poverty.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This article is part of research financed by the National Programme for Research, Development, and Innovation (I+D+I), focusing on Society's Challenges “Food and social structure. Analysis of food inequalities in Spain” (“Alimentación y estructura social. Análisis de las desigualdades alimentarias en España”) (CSO2015-68434-R). The funds come from the National Research Agency (AEI)/European Research Development Fund (FEDER), European Union; and grant of University of Oviedo (PAPI-18-PF-04). Thanks also to anonymous reviewers for their helpful and encouraging comments.

Citation

Díaz-Méndez, C., García-Espejo, I. and Otero-Estévez, S. (2020), "New and old forms of poverty in Spain: exploring food consumption during the crisis", British Food Journal, Vol. 122 No. 9, pp. 2807-2821. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-07-2019-0527

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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