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

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The rise 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, finding that benefit penalties and precarious employment are implicated in food bank uptake, but that users’ experiences are more complicated than an unmediated response to hunger. Food banks provide informal support for people on low incomes to manage none food expenditure as well as meeting dietary needs. Some reported shame at needing the food bank, but others suggested that the informality and flexibility were preferable to some forms of state welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-329
Number of pages19
JournalVoluntary Sector Review
Issue number3
Early online date29 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018


  • food banks
  • voluntarism
  • poverty
  • hunger

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