Since the 2007 – 2008 global food and financial crises, the raising food insecurity in the UK has been high on the political, academic and practitioners’ agenda. Simultaneously, the crises also stimulated new governance mechanisms that concentrate on building more sustainable food systems. Moving ‘beyond the foodbank’, some of them have focused on specific issues such as food insecurity and include participation by food insecure people.
In my research I am exploring how these new spaces of governance engage and empower ‘experts by experience’. Food lies in the nexus of the material, social and political and food insecurity manifests in injustices at different scales–from the body to the organisational, local and national level. I am aiming to unpack the politics of participation: who participates and how, and what processes are shaping this? How are the politics of voice navigated – who is speaking – but more crucially – who is listening? To what extent can people with lived experience of food insecurity alter power dynamics across different scales–from everyday injustices, through organisational frameworks to policy?
I am taking the Participatory Action Research approach, working with Food Power, a project co-run by Sustain and Church Action On Poverty. The aim of this national network of over 60 food poverty alliances is to locally ‘tackle food poverty through people-powered change’.