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Why do people use food banks? A qualitative study of food bank users in an English city

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The rise in the use of food banks has renewed debate about the extent of poverty and the adequacy of welfare provision. We conducted interviews with 25 food bank users in Bristol, England, finding that benefit penalties and precarious employment were implicated in food bank uptake, but that usage was more complicated than being an unmediated response to hunger. Food banks provided informal support for people on a low income to manage their food expenditure as well as meeting dietary needs. Some reported shame at needing the food bank, but others suggested that the informality and flexibility of food banks were preferable to some forms of state welfare.
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Keywords: FOOD BANKS; HUNGER; POVERTY; VOLUNTARISM

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Email: [email protected] 2: Email: [email protected] 3: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: December 1, 2018

This article was made available online on November 29, 2018 as a Fast Track article with title: "Why do people use food banks? A qualitative study of food bank users in an English city".

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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