Understanding dignity of food aid receivers in Europe

Food insecurity in Europe is a substantial problem. While Foodbanks help food insecure people to put food on the table, several scholars have attested that charitable food aid can violate receivers’ dignity. Factors deemed responsible for such negative effects are the repurposing of food waste, not providing product choice, and maintaining giver–receiver hierarchies in interactions. Meanwhile, new third sector initiatives have emerged throughout Europe trying to provide a non-stigmatizing, dignified approach to food aid. However, there is limited understanding of what exactly jeopardises dignity in the context of food aid.

The objectives of this project are:

  • Combine theories of dignity, consumption, solidarity and empowerment to frame third sector food aid initiatives
  • Develop a methodology for assessing dignity in food aid settings
  • Understand how various food aid initiatives affect the dignity of receivers
  • Develop recommendations for food aid organizations to protect the dignity of food aid receivers.

Ethnographic, multimethod research will be conducted in three case studies to reach these objectives. Case studies are selected for adopting distinct approaches to safeguarding receivers’ dignity. This includes a shop format, an initiative that provides a solidarity based food system and an initiative that aims at empowering food receivers.