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Twilight food networks: community kitchens as a response to food poverty in Southern England

Mayeux, S. (2023) Twilight food networks: community kitchens as a response to food poverty in Southern England. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00113545


This thesis is about the networked response to growing food poverty in the UK where one in five is estimated to experience concerns with running out of food, or not eating enough. In this context, an increasing number of private, local, grassroots groups and institutions have taken the initiative to set up food aid provision in the urban landscape, in addition to food banks, and operate as part of what I have I coined ‘Twilight Food Networks’ (TFNs). Community kitchens have been set up by the public to serve food and to offer other essentials to individuals who cannot purchase food as regularly as they would like, or for those who cannot access or afford any food at all, even via food banks. These kitchens or local food initiatives are situated ‘outside’ the formalised public or charitable emergency food banking system. Drawing on the anti-hunger movement literature and food studies, this dissertation positions community initiatives within the ‘second generation’ of Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) that address wider political food system pressures, and in this project, to questions of food justice, food poverty at the local level and the feeding of increasingly marginalised populations. This thesis draws on ethnographic and participatory research using a wide range of methods including netnography, participant observation as well as interviews conducted at various food handouts in the South of England. Data collection spanned from over a three-year period, from 2017 to 2020 in the town of Reading and surroundings where numerous charities serve food and non-food items to vulnerable individuals. Two theoretical and conceptual approaches underpin this research project, the first being food justice and the second care ethics. Findings suggest that community kitchens are relational spaces of care that take responsibility for those in food poverty and seek to address injustices by offering hopeful and progressive possibilities. Such an approach counters criticism that pertains to emergency food aid providers with regards to their actions towards immediate hunger relief, rather than against the root causes of food poverty. Findings further indicate that public-led initiatives within the TFNs are a catalyst for public engagement aimed at reducing hunger and poverty in the Global North, and therefore, can play a central role in efforts aimed at reducing various social injustices, including those that are food related.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Goodman, M.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:113545
Date on Title Page:July 2022


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