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Academic research study seeks people experiencing hunger and food poverty during COVID-19. Copyright credit: Getty Images - MachineHeadz

The study is being led by Professor Lynne Kennedy, Head of the Department of Clinical Sciences and Nutrition at the University of Chester. Professor Kennedy has already featured on local and national news recently, and has called for a national food service.

She said: “COVID-19 has exacerbated an already existing problem. There were already too many people struggling to afford access to healthy, nutritious or even enough food. Now there are families and individuals who have lost their jobs completely, are waiting for benefits or have been furloughed because of COVID-19. There is already research out there showing that people are suffering and that many go hungry. We want to find out more about the personal stories behind these headlines. How and why have people been affected? We would like to interview people in the area of Cheshire West and Chester, who, as a consequence of this pandemic, are less able to provide enough food for their family on a regular basis.”

Professor Kennedy and team are keen to speak to individuals or families from a wide cross section of households (low, middle and high income). They are interested in understanding the everyday experiences of people in these circumstances, in order to better understand the effect of Government policy during COVID-19, on different households. 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 or telephone 07500 552300. The study will be open in July and August. Participants will be reimbursed with a £10 High Street Voucher for their time.

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