Covid-19 and the crisis of food insecurity in the UK

Hartwig Pautz*, Damian Dempsey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


Over the past decade, food insecurity has been increasing across the United Kingdom. The 2020/21 Covid-19 global pandemic has further aggravated food insecurity. This article examines how Covid-19 affected food insecurity through, first, a review of existing literature on the UK and, second, through presenting research results from Scotland with a focus on four groups considered to be specifically vulnerable to food insecurity – namely people with a disability, the homeless, young carers, and (destitute) asylum seekers. The article finds that Covid-19 impacted food insecurity in three ways: (1) it led to rising need driven mainly by income reductions and income crises; (2) it created new and intensified food access challenges; and (3) it had a significant impact on the operation of food banks and their important ‘wrap-around’ services (e.g. benefits advice). The article concludes with a discussion of the role of the social sciences in understanding the food insecurity crisis during Covid-19. In summary, the article adds to the developing understanding of the consequences of Covid-19 on food insecurity, the effectiveness of policy measures and the role that social sciences can play in times of crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-449
Number of pages16
JournalContemporary Social Science
Issue number5
Early online date24 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2022


  • food insecurity
  • food poverty
  • United Kingdom
  • Scotland
  • covid-19


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