1st Edition

Food Deserts and Food Insecurity in the UK Exploring Social Inequality

By Dianna Smith, Claire Thompson Copyright 2023
    94 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    94 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the social inequalities relating to food insecurity in the UK, as well as drawing parallels with the US.

    Access to food in the UK, and especially access to healthy food, is a constant source of worry for many in this wealthy country. Crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, have coincided with a steep rise in the cost of living, meaning household food insecurity has become a reality for many more households. This book introduces a new framework to examine the many influences on local-level food inequalities, whether they result from individual circumstances or where a person lives. The framework will allow researchers new to the field to consider the many influences on food security, and to support emerging research around different sub-topics of food access and food security. Providing a thorough background to two key concepts, food deserts and food insecurity, the book documents the transition from area-based framing of food resources, to approaches which focus on household food poverty and the rise of food banks. The book invites researchers to acknowledge and explore the ever changing range of place-based factors that shape experiences of food insecurity: from transport and employment to rural isolation and local politics. By proposing a new framework for food insecurity research and by drawing on real-world examples, this book will support academic and applied researchers as they work to understand and mitigate the impacts of food insecurity in local communities.

    This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of food and nutrition security, public health, and sociology. It will also appeal to food policy professionals and policymakers who are working to address social inequalities and improve access to healthy and nutritious food for all.

    1. The complexities and challenges of researching hunger in wealthier countries  2. Food deserts: access, affordability and availability of retail food  3. The emergence of ‘food poverty’ as a research topic  4. New geographies of food access and inequality  5. Food in place: methodological approaches to understanding inequalities in food  6. The changing landscape of food research


    Dianna Smith is an Associate Professor in the School of Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Southampton, UK.

    Claire Thompson is a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Health and Social Work at the University of Hertfordshire, UK.

    "Increasing evidence of food poverty and food insecurity experienced by people in wealthy countries is of major concern. In response, the expansion of emergency charitable food aid provision similarly evidences that the issue is being ignored by government. In this wonderful new book, Smith and Thompson work to systematically examine the UK’s food environment, showing clear associations between food deserts, food poverty and mental and physical poor health outcomes. As Smith and Thompson offer a methodological framework, this book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in understanding the socio-political and geographical drivers of food poverty, and the inescapable links between food waste, food charity and poor health outcomes."

    Dr Dave Beck, Lecturer of Social Policy, University of Salford