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Social Eating Initiatives and the Practices of Commensality

Smith, M.; Harvey, John

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M. Smith

Associate Professor


Social eating initiatives are a mode of food provisioning and eating that have become increasingly popular in the UK. These organisations provide a menu of low-cost meals prepared using food surpluses and deliberately serve food communally to improve social inclusion. Although these community initiatives have grown rapidly in popularity, research into their value from the perspective of participants is currently limited. This article presents data from a concurrent multi-method study conducted across multiple sites of the Nottingham Social Eating Network to explain the emergence of these novel social configurations. The results show this form of commensality, or group eating practice, is not simply a consequence of reducing food waste or food insecurity. Instead these initiatives are enacted through a series of intersecting social practices, which include: the restructuration of the shared mealtime; alimentary contribution; and performances of care. The findings provide important insights into the values expressed in these emergent initiatives and are therefore useful for framing social eating in public policy.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 4, 2021
Online Publication Date Jan 15, 2021
Publication Date Jun 1, 2021
Deposit Date Jan 28, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jan 16, 2022
Journal Appetite
Print ISSN 0195-6663
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 161
Article Number 105107
Keywords Social Eating; Commensality; Food Waste; Food Insecurity; Practice Theory; Alimentary Contribution 2
Public URL
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