Fair Access to Food

Food Poverty & Insecurity

Food poverty and food insecurity are widespread in Exeter. Find out more in Food Exeter’s report on food poverty in our city.

Food poverty is:

The inability to afford or have reasonable access to food which provides a healthy diet.

– Department of Health in 2005

Food poverty is worse diet, worse access, worse health, higher percentage of income on food and less choice from a restricted range of foods.  Above all food poverty is about less or almost no consumption of fruit & vegetables.

Professor Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy at City University

Food insecurity is a newer term. It is used to describe people who may fall into food poverty relatively easily, usually because they are already only just getting by. Any incident such as a delay in benefits or reduced working hours can tip them into food poverty.

The food charity Sustain says :

Food poverty can be defined as the inability to obtain healthy affordable food.  This may be because people lack shops in their area or have trouble reaching them.  Other factors influencing food access are the availability of a range of healthy goods in local shops, income, transport, fear of crime, knowledge about what constitutes a healthy diet, and the skills to create healthy meals.

Due to this complex mix of factors, people on low incomes have the lowest intakes of fruit and vegetables and are far more likely to suffer from diet-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease.  Food poverty can also be about an overabundance of “junk” food as well as a lack of healthy food.

Food poverty is a complex issue that has become more visible with the recent rise in emergency food providers. Food bank use is an inadequate indicator of need, because many households only ask for emergency food help as a last resort. There are 30 food banks and 20 other emergency food providers in Devon, including soup kitchens, and day centres.

Public Health Devon has a useful summary of food poverty in Devon.

Latest news on local and national action on food poverty, from Food Power.

Collaboration on Food Poverty & Insecurity

Food Exeter has worked with local organisations to increase collaboration in the city on all aspects of food poverty. Our work has shown that local organisations believe that there are ways to work together in smarter ways, and the potential to develop new, joint solutions. Together with Exeter Community Initiatives, we are currently leading an innovative dialogue process between emergency food groups and agencies to seek for any agreed areas for change. More details can be found here.

The final report prepared by Clarity CIC is available here.

This project now includes our earlier Advice and Information mapping project, co-funded by Exeter Food Bank, and the national Food Power movement, looking at ways to improve the quality of advice and information for people living in poverty. The summary report of our findings can be found here, and the complete report including all the data and comments can be found here.



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