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The Implementation and impact of a Social Food Bus in County Durham (Ref: RDFC22/HLS/SWECW/DEFEYTER )

   Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

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  Prof G Defeyter  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) defines food security as “when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 2003: 29). Over the past six years, the UK has experienced economic and welfare cuts against a backdrop of increasing food prices. An increase in the price of food is more difficult for families on low income to absorb as they have to spend a greater proportion of their income on food. Post-Brexit there is an increasing squeeze on household budgets as other essentials (e.g., fuel) increase in price and food is the elastic item in the household budget. Hence, food security and being able to eat a nutritious diet has become a serious concern for low-income families, many of whom have sought support from charitable food distribution systems and civil society organisations. This is a major concern in Northeast England (NE) where 37% of children live below the poverty line (versus 31% nationally) and 24% of school-aged pupils are eligible for Free School Meals (FSM -vs 17% nationally). Although food banks offer an emergency sticking plaster for immediate food relief, they struggle to provide a long-term, sustainable, dignified response to address food insecurity and poor diet.

Over the last few years there has been a growth in social food shops. These shops provide an alternative method of food redistribution. In addition to providing food, social food shops often aim to upskill and support community actions in an accessible manner. Recently, a new version of this concept has arisen in terms of a social food bus. However, there has been little research into the effect these initiatives have on families/ children who attend, governance structures and policies. Preliminary research findings are encouraging, but mainly anecdotal, and causal evidence of the effectiveness of social food shops/ buses is still required. This programme of research will determine if a social food bus ameliorates (a) household food security, (b) improves children’s dietary intake and nutritional knowledge, (c) parent/caregivers’ well-being, (d) children’s mental wellbeing. Findings will be share with service providers to support programme improvement and to develop examples of best practice. As this intervention is linked to schools, there is the possibility for the research programme to map pupils’ outcomes, across a number of domains.

The design and methodologies are to be shaped by the PhD candidate and the supervisory team. It is anticipated that this research programme will involve both quantitative and qualitative data, so the ability to use different research methods and analyses may be required, or at least a willingness to learn new methods.

The project will be based in County Durham and is a collaboration between Northumbria University and Chartwells. The project will involve a high level of field work in both urban and rural locations. The position will require an enhanced DBS disclosure.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

·      Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.

·      Appropriate IELTS score, if required.

·      Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see 

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDFC22/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 14th August 2022

Start Date: 1 November 2022 

Northumbria University is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our doctoral students. We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme. We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers

Funding Notes

The studentship supports a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2022/23 this is £16,062 per year) and full tuition fees. Only Home candidates may apply, due to funding constraints.
Please note: to be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or
• have settled status, or
• have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or
• have indefinite leave to remain or enter.


Round, E. K., Shinwell, J., Stretesky, P. B., & Defeyter, M. A. (2022). An exploration of nutritional education within the Holiday Activities and Food programme in England. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.19,4,p.,2398. Available online: IJERPH | Free Full-Text | An Exploration of Nutritional Education within the Holiday Activities and Food Programme in England (
Crilley, E., Brownlee, I., & Defeyter, M.A. (2022). The diet of children attending a holiday programme in the UK: Adherence to UK food-based dietary guidelines and school food standards. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19,55. Available online:
Mann, E., Widdison, C., Sattar, Z., & Defeyter, M.A. (2021). Procurement and delivery of food at holiday provision clubs. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. 1-13. Available online:
Armstrong, B, Reynolds,C., Adrianao Martins, C., Frankowska, A., Levy, R., Rauber, R, Osei-Kwasi, H., Vega, M., Cediel, G., Schmidt, X., Kluczkovski, A., Akparibo, R., Robert, A., Auma, C., Defeyter, M.A., Tereza da Silva, J., & Bridge, G. (2021). Food Insecurity, food waste, food behaviours and cooking confidence of UK citizens at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. British Journal of Food, 123.9, p.2959-2978.
James, M., Marchant, E., Defeyter, M.A., Woodside, J., & Brophy, S. (2021). Impact of school closures on the health and well-being of primary school children in Wales UK: a routine data linkage study using the HAPPEN Survey (2018-2020). BMJ Open, 11, 10. Online version:
Defeyter, M.A., Stretesky, P.B., Long, M.A., Furey, S., Reynolds, C., Porteous, D., Dodd, A., Mann, E., Kemp, A., Fox, J., McAnallen, A., & Concalves, L. (2021). Mental well-being in UK Higher Education during Covid-19: Do Students Trust Universities and the Government? Frontiers in Public Health, April 2021. Online version:
Long, M.A., Stretesky, P.B., Crilley, E., Sattar, Z., & Defeyter, M.A. (2021). Examining the relationship between child holiday club attendance and mental wellbeing. Public Health in Practice 2, 100122. Online version:
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