This paper uses data from a city with a multi-ethnic, multi-faith population to better understand faith-based food aid. The paper aims to understand what constitutes faith-based responses to food insecurity, compare the prevalence and nature of faith-based food aid across different religions and explore how community food aid meets the needs of a multi-ethnic, multi-faith population.
The study involved two phases of primary research. In Phase 1, desk-based research and dialogue with stakeholders in local food security programmes were used to identify faith-based responses to food insecurity. Phase 2 consisted of 18 semi-structured interviews involving faith-based and secular charitable food aid organizations.
The paper illustrates the internal heterogeneity of faith-based food aid. Faith-based food aid is highly prevalent and the vast majority is Christian. Doctrine is a key motivation among Christian organizations for their provision of food. The fact that the clients at faith-based, particularly Christian, food aid did not reflect the local religious demographic is a cause for concern in light of the entry-barriers identified. This concern is heightened by the co-option of faith-based organizations by the state as part of the “Big Society” agenda.
This is the first academic study in the UK to look at the faith-based arrangements of Christian and Muslim food aid providers, to set out what it means to provide faith-based food aid in the UK and to explore how faith-based food aid interacts with people of other religions and no religion.
The work was funded through a National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (NIHR CLAHRC) for Yorkshire and Humber White Rose studentship [grant number IS-CLA-0113-10020]. The funder had no input into the study design, content or submission of the article.
Power, M., Small, N., Doherty, B., Stewart-Knox, B. and Pickett, K.E. (2017), "“Bringing heaven down to earth”: the purpose and place of religion in UK food aid", Social Enterprise Journal, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 251-267. https://doi.org/10.1108/SEJ-06-2017-0035
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