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The research catalogue is an archive of ESRC-funded grants and outputs. Links, files and other content will no longer be maintained or updated after April 2014.

Food for Thought: Food based training, assessment and intervention tools for carers of looked after young people

Food works not only on a material level as sustenance but also on a symbolic level where it can come to represent thoughts, feelings and relationships (Punch et al. 2009). Recent studies have shown the role of food in the demonstration of care (eg Kaplan 2000) and the negotiation of power relationships between adults and children (Grieshaber, 1997). It is central to the construction of children’s identities (James et al., 2009) both in families (Wills et al., 2008) as well as amongst peers (Valentine, 2000).

This project advances knowledge exchange between academics, practitioners, carers and educators in relation to the use of food in the care of looked after children. It will co-produce, with Partner Agencies and the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services, a training package on the symbolic use of food in residential and foster care and design an interactive assessment tool to aid residential staff and foster carers’ reflections on the child in their care and the food practices which are in place.

The project will monitor how these tools have been integrated into practice. In addition, the team will conduct a critical reflection on the process of partnership working and co-production in academic research.