Stakeholder event: Enhancing Food Security in Later life
The stakeholder event titled 'Enhancing Food Security in Later Life' held on Tuesday the 17th of May at the Fielder Centre, Hatfield.
The event brought together stakeholders from across the food system to discuss the findings from the study. Representatives from organisations involved in food policy including the FSA and DEFRA, food manufacturers such as Apetito, Sodexo and Premier foods, representatives of older people's forums in Broxbourne and Stevenage, lunch clubs, Age UK, National Association of Care Caterers, Supermarkets and Hertfordshire Independent living services (suppliers of meals on wheels services in Hertfordshire) all attended the event.
Chaired by Ann Wiliams; a member of the Vulnerabilities working group Social Science research committe of the FSA, there was a presentation from the research team showcasing the initial research findings from this 2-year study, funded under the Global Food Security Programme by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Food Standards Agency. From the importance of local amenities (transport; lunch clubs and local shops, for example); knowledge, competency and beliefs in making food choices in later life; to the impact of multiple and changing health needs; and the myriad of ways that social networks facilitate or hinder food security as people age, the findings showed the variety of interconnected systems within which everyday food decisons in later life were conducted.
The team stressed that rather than one major threat, often an acummulation of trivia and the build up of small challenges overtime across these systems accrue gradually to become tipping points that eventually make older people vulnerable. Questions from the audience ranged from how the research addressed older people's perception of food taste and impact of the changing pallette on food choices, older peoples' perception of themselves as vulnerable and attitudes to shopping online.
"Thanks very much for inviting me to your Food Security conference on Tuesday. A truly trans-disciplinary meeting! It was certainly very helpful to me for getting a wider perspective on food and the elderly."
Participant at the event
In four breakout groups after lunch, the groups were presented with an adapted board game featuring 10 scenarios depicting actual situations emerging research. Faciliated by members of the research team, each group was encouraged to suggest alternatives, solutions and further thoughts around the questions raised in these scenarios. The board game-style of brainstorming proved to be highly engaging and provoked a useful set of conversations. The day ended with a lively panel session made up of Ann Williams, Dugald Strathearn (DEFRA), Fiona Rolfe (Stevenage Borough Council), Helen Atkinson and Tracey Smith (FSA) and chaired by Professor Wendy Wills where final comments on further research on packaging and malnutrition, implications for policy and partnership working were discussed before the day ended just after 3.00pm.