Is it appropriate to use surplus food to feed people in hunger? Short-term Band-Aid to more deep rooted problems of poverty.

Martin Caraher, Sinead Furey

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


There has been a rise in campaigning and attention focused on food waste in the domestic homesetting and across industry in terms of production, manufacturing, distribution and retailing. At the same time, the proliferation of food banks and more general emergency food aid across the UK has drawn attention to the problem of household food insecurity. Calls for actions to reduce food waste and reduce food insecurity have led to recommendations forenhancing systems to increase the redistribution of surplus food to emergency food aid charities asa solution to food insecurity.Our analysis of the benefits and drawbacks of the use of surplus food to feed food insecure peoplehighlights how this practice undermines calls for direct actions to both reduce the production ofsurplus food and to address upstream drivers of food insecurity and ensure the right to food.Recommendations call for civil society and policymakers to focus on systemic solutions to bothfood waste and household food insecurity as separate entities.While the redistribution of surplus food to emergency food aid providers provides immediate reliefin the short-term, there is no evidence to show that it addresses food insecurity.There is evidence from other countries that the use of surplus food for emergency food aid‘depoliticises’ hunger and allows governments not to address the gap between income and foodcosts.
Original languageEnglish
TypeFood Research Collaboration Policy Briefing Paper.
PublisherFood Research Collaboration
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2017

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  • Food poverty
  • food insecurity
  • food waste
  • surplus food


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