New film highlights relationship between low income and loneliness

  • New film highlights how people struggling to buy food are also likely to suffer from loneliness
  • Mini documentary follows two community projects in South Yorkshire that help people to access food, overcome isolation and share food skills with younger generations
  • Initiatives redistribute surplus food to those who need it most via affordable social eating spaces with community-based activities
  • Six million tons of edible food is wasted each year in the UK with less than five per cent redistributed to charities

Children taking part in a cooking skills session

A new film highlighting how people struggling to access food are also likely to be suffering from loneliness is being screened for the first time this week (26 – 29 September 2018) following research from the University of Sheffield.

The short documentary, More Than Just Food, follows two community projects in South Yorkshire that are helping those who are food insecure.

Initiatives featured in the film are also helping to fight loneliness by redistributing surplus food in affordable, welcoming community spaces, which enable people in low income areas to meet new friends and socialise.

A recent investigation by the Food Foundation suggests that the families of 3.7 million children in the UK are unable to afford to buy food that meets the national nutritional guidelines.

Separate studies have found that six million tons of edible food is wasted in the UK each year and less than five per cent of this is being sent to charities.

Additionally, millions of people throughout the country describe themselves as lonely.

Based on research by Dr Megan Blake from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Geography, which is seeking to understand how surplus food can be used for social good, the new film explores how the two projects are bringing people together to give them not just access to food, but also spaces to eat together in order to address both of these problems.

Dr Megan Blake said: “Hunger is now a serious problem in the UK with millions of people being unable to afford to feed themselves and their families healthy meals.

“This hunger is also leading to loneliness because people who cannot afford to buy food for themselves or their families are also struggling to take part in every day social interactions, such as taking their child to a friend’s birthday party or going to an after-school club.

“What many people may not realise is poverty often causes extreme isolation for those affected. Food is often something that brings family and friends together and is at the heart of many social occasions.

“The projects captured in the new film are proving an invaluable way for people to enjoy the social elements of food without having to worry about the financial implications. The benefits of the projects are so much more than providing a nutritional meal and will have far reaching impacts for wellbeing and community spirit.”

The film is currently being screened as part of the National Food Service events at the Festival of the Mind – a 10 day city-wide festival showcasing some of the latest pioneering research from the University of Sheffield in collaboration with the city’s creative, cultural and digital industries.

The purpose of the National Food Service strand of events is to encourage people to eat together and to consider what a National Food Service might look like.

The events are being held at the Food Hall, 121 Ayre Street, Sheffield S1 4QW, from 26 – 29 September 2018, from 11am to 6pm each day.

For more information, visit:

For more information on the University’s Festival of the Mind, including a full list of events, visit:

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

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Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

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For further information please contact:

Sean Barton
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9852