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Food system resilience and free school meals: Emyr Davies' research at the Intellectual Forum

Jesus College undergraduate and Intellectual Forum intern, Emyr Davies, is currently researching food-system resilience, with an accent on the efficacy of school meal provision in England during the COVID-19 pandemic. He plans to submit his findings for journal publication.

Underpinning Emyr’s research is the contention that schools are key actors in food systems and that, consequently, they should be placed at the heart of food-resilience planning. After designing and distributing a survey to over five-hundred parents, he has explored changing the parental perception of free school meals in the context of the pandemic, and whether trust in free school meal safety and quality is stratified according to social class. Free school meals are a central mechanism in the fight against child food-poverty, making this an important empirical puzzle with which to grapple. 

As a second line of enquiry, Emyr has used Freedom of Information requests to map the contours of free school meal uptake during lockdown, as well as to ascertain how schools have coped in supporting new applications for free school meals. Here, he has paid close attention to applications made by pupils of No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) status – a demographic neglected in much of the extant literature on food-system planning.

Emyr hopes his research will contribute to a better understanding of how to safeguard the food security of vulnerable demographics in instances of crisis.

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