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Researchers at the University of Chester want to hear from anyone who finds themselves struggling to afford an adequate amount of food to meet basic needs and avoid hunger.

The Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition wants to capture what impact this has on people’s quality of life and convey this to policy and decision makers locally to inform action to address food poverty.

All the information given will be anonymised. Participants will be provided with a £10 Amazon voucher as a thank you for their time.

The team is keen to speak to individuals or families from a wide cross section of households (low, middle and high income) who may have been affected.

The study is being led by Professor Lynne Kennedy, Chair of the Food Security, Sustainability and Social Justice Research Hub and Head of the Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition at the University who has called for a national food service.

She said: COVID-19 has exacerbated an already existing problem of food poverty in the local area. We know that many households struggle to make ends meet. Food is the most flexible item in a household budget and the food shop is therefore the first to suffer when income falls. Access to healthy and nutritious food is important for the general population; however, for some people, they simply can’t afford enough food to meet basic needs and will go hungry on a regular basis.

“We know a growing number of people have lost their jobs, are waiting on benefit payments, or have been furloughed because of COVID-19. This will compound an already important issue.

“We want to find out more about the personal stories behind these headlines. How and why have people been affected? And what can agencies and policy makers in Cheshire West and Chester, do to address this issue.”

Professor Kennedy and team are interested in understanding the everyday experiences of people in these circumstances, in order to understand the effect of Government policy on different households better during COVID-19. In addition, the academics will explore the coping strategies of individuals, the local agencies (such as Food Banks or advice services) or other sources of support required in this type of situation and identify gaps in this support, so that lessons can be learned to help avoid the same problems in future.

Those who choose to take part will be asked a number of questions relating to their situation (for example, household size, income source, experience of hunger and poverty during the pandemic, and possible sources of support during this period).

Researchers may also be able to signpost people to relevant support agencies. No personal details will appear in the report and no-one will be identifiable in the final report.

Professor Kennedy added: “This is the first stage in a four-stage research study. We are hoping that our research will lead to a better understanding of the issues people experience in relation to securing the adequate amount and quality of food, as a result of policy decisions made during COVID-19, and how this might be better addressed in future, to ensure people are properly supported in national emergencies.”

To take part in the study, please email l.kennedy@chester.ac.uk or telephone 07500 552300. For further information, please see https://tinyurl.com/y7edborw

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