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Going Hungry in the UK: Our food deserts problem

Global Food Security
Event date
Event time
17:30 GMT

Organiser's description (via Global Food Security at the University of Cambridge):

Join us to find out why it’s so hard to find affordable, healthy food in some areas of the UK, and what can be done about it.

For many people in the UK a healthy and sustainable diet is simply out of reach. This is in part due to food deserts; neighbourhoods where it’s very hard to find affordable fresh fruit and vegetables due to poverty, poor public transport and a lack of big supermarkets.

  • What is it about food supply chains and retail in the UK that has caused this uneven distribution of cheaper, healthier food?
  • Should access to healthy, sustainable food be a right?
  • Is this a problem for governments (local and national), businesses or communities to solve?

Our experienced, expert panel will discuss what food deserts are, why they exist and possible solutions.



Chair: Dr Jagjit Singh Srai, Director of Research, and Head, Centre for International Manufacturing, University of Cambridge.

Dr Srai's research centre at the University of Cambridge brings an engineering and strategic operations management perspective to the design, analysis and operation of international supply chains and the impact of advanced production and digital technologies. Through major collaborations with industry (individual firms and consortia), primarily in healthcare and food/FMCG sectors, his research findings have directly underpinned major organisational change.

Professor Carol Wagstaff, Research Dean for Agriculture, Food and Health, University of Reading.

Professor Wagstaff's research focuses on improving the quality of horticultural food crops, including the nutritional value, appearance, flavour and shelf life, as well as helping consumers make healthy dietary choices.

Carol is the Principal Investigator of FoodSEqual one of four £6m projects awarded under the Transforming the UK Food System Strategic Priority Fund, which focuses on “co-production of healthy, sustainable food systems for disadvantaged communities.” She is Co-Director of the BBSRC-funded Horticulture Quality and Food Loss Network and the Director of the AgriFood Training Partnership, which delivers high-level skills and training for people working in the agriculture and food industries.

Dr Megan Blake, Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield.

Dr Blake is a recognised expert in food security and food justice. She has an established international reputation for her research focusing on three intersecting strands: 1) Surplus food chains and practices of redistribution 2) Community organisations, social innovation and self-organisation, and practices of resilience 3) Social inequalities. Her work is underpinned by a practice-based theoretical approach. She works closely with local and national scale organisations and local authorities to achieve research impacts that make real change. 

Leon Ballin, Programme Manager, Sustainable Food Places

The Sustainable Food Places network is made up of 95 pioneering food partnerships in towns, cities, boroughs, districts and counties; all driving innovation across the food system with the aim of making healthy and sustainable food a defining characteristic of where people live. Leon lives in Sheffield and has been committed to improving our food system through empowering communities and supporting policy change for over 17 years.