Schools as sites for integrated community food action

Grantham Scholar Catherine Malpass examines community food action through ‘An Even Better Arbourthorne’ scheme in a Sheffield primary school.

The project

Food insecurity is a significant problem across the world, and is being exacerbated by the destabilisation of the climate crisis and rising levels of inequality. The after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis in the United Kingdom has also made food provision more difficult for everyone, particularly the most vulnerable in society.

Schools are central to combating food insecurity and working towards food justice, as they are a unique touchpoint with all levels of society. At the moment, school food initiatives centre around gardening schemes, food provision, or educational schemes for the community. Though there is a need for school and community to work together, rather than schools acting upon the community.

Arbourthorne Community Primary School in south Sheffield is devoted to bridging the gap between school and community through their ‘An Even Better Arbourthorne’ scheme. The scheme brings a network of parent volunteers into the school to participate in initiatives such as the community fridge and food growing initiatives, working alongside staff and children.

This PhD will examine how Arbourthorne are enacting innovative, intergenerational and intercultural practices as a community to address food insecurity. This move to more sustainable practices will also be investigated for its contributions towards wellbeing and belonging.

Looking more widely, it is hoped that the work happening within Arbourthorne will act as a case study to inform future practice and policy for integrated community food action in schools across the UK.



Dr Joanne Thompson

School of Medicine and Population Health