• "Bringing heaven down to earth”: The purpose and place of religion in UK food aid

      Power, M.; Small, Neil A.; Doherty, B.; Stewart-Knox, Barbara; Pickett, K.E. (2017)
      This paper uses data from a city with a multi-ethnic, multi-faith population to better understand faith-based food aid. It aims to understand what constitutes faith-based responses to food insecurity; compare the prevalence and nature of faith-based food aid across different religions; and explore how community food aid meets the needs of a multi-ethnic, multi-faith population. Methodology The study involved two phases of primary research. In phase one, desk-based research and dialogue with stakeholders in local food security programmes was used to identify faith- based responses to food insecurity. Phase two consisted of 18 semi-structured interviews involving faith-based and secular charitable food aid organizations. Findings The paper illustrates the internal heterogeneity of faith-based food aid. Faith-based food aid is highly prevalent and the vast majority is Christian. Doctrine is a key motivation among Christian organizations for their provision of food. The fact that the clients at faith-based, particularly Christian, food aid did not reflect the local religious demographic is a cause for concern in light of the entry-barriers identified. This concern is heightened by the co-option of faith-based organizations by the state as part of the ‘Big Society’ agenda. Originality This is the first academic study in the UK to look at the faith-based arrangements of Christian and Muslim food aid providers, to set out what it means to provide faith-based food aid in the UK and to explore how faith-based food aid interacts with people of other religions and no religion.