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Moving beyond food waste-based solidarity kitchens in time of crisis: the role of agroecology-based community kitchens in building community resourcefulness

Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience

About the Project

Coventry University (CU) is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship.

Covid-19 has exacerbated problems related to the current unjust and unsustainable food systems, with millions of people going hungry, and farmers struggling to recruit farmworkers to work in the fields. The crisis has revealed the structural problems of a food system which reflects social inequalities and the marginalisation of the fundamental ecological basis of our nature as humans. The unfolding of the pandemic has seen a proliferation of community-run food support initiatives, some based on solidarity cooking, and a wider use of food discarded by the mainstream retail sector as ‘surplus’. While the use of food ‘surplus’ is commendable in providing for the vulnerable in emergency situations in the short term, the normalisation of the existence of food surplus and food waste sold or distributed as ‘cheap food’ overlooks a problematic reality: that food surplus exists because a powerful retail sector ‘extracts’ agricultural products with exploitative farm prices at the expense of dignified livelihoods for farm workers.

This project focusses on how to turn the energy, sensitivity and organisational capacity of grassroots communities currently engaged in community kitchens into building blocks of new community-based food systems, where the production of food is rooted in broader networks of soil carers and agroecological food producers in urban and peri-urban contexts.

Training and Development

The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry criteria for applicants to PHD

• A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
• a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)

For further details see:

Additional criteria for the selection of the candidate are:
- practical experience within solidarity food initiatives, particularly within a community kitchen;
- Willingness to engage with local food initiatives in Coventry
- interest in participatory action research and co-creation methodologies;
- knowledge of and/or involvement in the agroecology and food sovereignty movement;
- interest in feminist, decolonial and commoning conceptual frameworks and practices;
- desire to be actively involved in a research team for the development of an agroecological urbanism.

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Dr. Chiara Tornaghi, at or +447557425355

To apply on line please visit:

For all application queries please contact

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus an up-to 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project and how they match the additional preferential requirements for the candidate.

Funding Notes

Full studentship which includes tuition fees and living expenses for a doctoral candidate over 3.5 years.

Stipend rates set by UKRI with an annual projected average increase of 1.25% per year.

Additional allowances of £750 for field work will be funded by the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR). The successful candidate will receive an additional allowance of £500 per annum for professional expenses and conference attendance.

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