Food for Thought

Published in Features on 10 Dec 2013

The routines and rituals that surround food - shopping, preparing, cooking, serving, cleaning up - are important parts of our lives, yet often we fail to recognise their symbolic or hidden meanings.

Food for Thought was an ESRC-funded project designed to implement the findings of previous ESRC research by the University of Stirling into the symbolic role of food in foster and residential child care. Led by a team from of the University of Stirling, the project partners included Perth and Kinross Council, Core Assets Scotland Fostering, Aberlour Child Care Trust, Iriss and CELCIS.

On 19 November 2013, the project website was launched. It includes a suite of tools training materials for foster carers and residential staff involved in the day-to-day care of looked after children and young people. They encourage adults and children to reflect on how food is used socially:

  • making and sustaining relationships
  • recovering from past hurt
  • communicating feelings
  • creating a sense of identity and belonging
  • challenging and resisting as well as many others.

The intention is not to give set answers or 'how to' strategies but to support individual reflection and discussion on the uses of food as a medium for delivering attuned and responsive care and support.

An Interactive Guide, produced by Iriss, allows foster carers and residential child care workers to reflect on their food practices and compare these with the research findings. The launch event was covered by Iriss.FM and you can hear partners and practitioners talking about how this research has had a direct impact on practice.