Ongoing Project

Food Insecurity in Hull

Understanding food insecurity in Hull during the Covid-19 pandemic, from the perspective of food support service users.

Project summary

The Challenge

2.5% of UK households were using a foodbank pre-Covid. Has the pandemic impacted food insecurity in Hull, especially in areas of high deprivation?

The Approach

Food support service users in Hull were surveyed in spring 2021, and results will be shared at Hull’s Food Summit in September 2021.

The Outcome

Food affordability and food access are key dimensions of food insecurity in Hull. The research findings will inform a 3-year food poverty action plan.

Lead researchers

Funded by

Project partners

The Challenge

The State of Hunger Report (May 2021), by the Trussell Trust, estimated that 2.5% of households in the UK needed to use a foodbank in 2019/2020 prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. This research starts to consider the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on household food insecurity in Hull, against the backdrop of existing high levels of deprivation in parts of the city.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been studies and reports about the increasing number of people in England needing to access a food bank or food support service. In order to think about the actions needed to address food insecurity, in this case in Hull, UK, it is important to recognise that food poverty may be as a result of the affordability of food. It may also be as a result of a lack of availability of food in an area (particularly healthy food or fresh fruit and vegetables); or perhaps household members are not able to get out of the house to buy food. A further issue may be utilising the food bought, for example, having the skills or the equipment required to prepare food.

This research reports the findings of a survey of people in Hull who have accessed a food support service, to better understand these issues.

The Approach

The research was conducted in Hull, UK. Food support service users were surveyed in April and May 2021. The survey responses were then analysed and reported. The results will be shared with the Hull Food Inequality Alliance at the Food Summit in Hull in September 2021.

The survey results were analysed using the four dimensions or pillars of food security. These are commonly defined as: availability of food supplies; affordability of food; utilisation of food, e.g. the ability to prepare food and the cultural acceptability of available food; and access, i.e. can available food actually be physically accessed? The analysis of the responses to the open-ended questions used a process of ‘coding’ each response to identify themes. The codes were then allocated to the appropriate dimension of food security, to help explore the specific issues which make up that dimension (e.g. what exactly contributes to making food difficult to utilise?).

The Impact

This pilot research demonstrates that ‘food affordability’ is a key dimension of food insecurity in Hull. Almost 50% of respondents to the survey had been worried (in the last 12 months) that the food they have at home would run out before they had money to buy more. Whilst affordability was a major factor and concern in the responses, almost 20% of respondents didn’t have access to a kitchen and the things they need to cook with to make meals for themselves or members of their household.

Key findings

  • Over 1/3 of respondents to the survey in the last 12 months have been hungry but didn’t eat because there wasn’t enough money for food.
  • “Food affordability” is an important dimension of food insecurity in Hull, but this is comprised of many specific factors facing individual respondents.
  • Almost 1/3 of respondents don’t feel that they can easily buy healthy food in their neighbourhood.
  • Almost 1/5 of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that they had access to a kitchen and the things they need to cook with to make meals for themselves or members of their household.
  • Almost 50% of respondents had been worried that the food they have at home would run out before they had money to buy more.
  • Respondents expressed how food availability is a key factor in food insecurity, in their comments to decision makers.

The findings of the report will be presented at the Food Summit in Hull in September 2021 and will inform the development of a three-year strategic food poverty action plan for Hull.

Food insecurity in Hull Report