Decent Food for All

IPH led the evaluation of the Decent Food for All (DFfA) initiative in Northern Ireland. DFfa  was a partnership-based intervention addressing inequalities in physical and financial access to safe healthy food. The DFfA intervention was led by Armagh and Dungannon Health Action Zone (HAZ).

The aims of the intervention were to:

  • improve the provision and consumption of affordable, safe and healthy food particularly among the disadvantaged groups;
  • support local communities, families and individuals to achieve a balanced safe diet by providing practical, community based and focused help and advice on food issues and nutrition.

DFfA addressed the three dimensions of food poverty – financial access, physical access, and access to information. The intervention incorporated a four workshop series:

  • Cook It!: aimed at anyone interested in enhancing their cooking skills and healthier eating
  • Balanced Beginnings: about the nutritional needs from conception through the early years of childhood;
  • My Body: to encourage children to look after their bodies in a healthy way
  • Looking Good Feeling Better: aimed at those wanting to shift towards a healthier lifestyle (diet, physical activity, smoking, alcohol…).

Four (single session) workshops

  • Balance of Good Health: developed for children to encourage fruit consumption and increase awareness about hidden sugars in foods
  • Food Safety in the Home: covering topics such as food hygiene, storage and shopping tips
  • Understanding Food Labels
  • Budgeting and Money Management: to help increase expenditure on healthy food.

Initially planned as a three-year intervention, DFfA was extended for a year and delivery of the intervention finished in late 2006/early 2007.

IPH delivered a significant research and evaluation project associated with the DFfA intervention. Key expected outcomes and associated indicators were identified and these indicators were measured in pre-test and post-test community surveys. These also provided local contextual information about dietary and food safety knowledge and practices. These surveys were conducted in the intervention area, as well as in the Newry/Mourne area which served as a non-randomised comparison area. Availability and cost of food was assessed through pre-test and post-test food basket studies. This analysis was complemented by qualitative information from a number of ethnographic studies, which explore the cultural aspects of food and food consumption.

Funding for the research and evaluation programme was provided by the Food Safety Promotion Board (now called Safefood)

Tackling Food Poverty: lessons from the Decent Food for All (DFfa) intervention