Business analytics development in the food bank sector – Phase Two Report

Richard Vidgen: Hull University Business School, email: r.vidgen@hull.ac.uk
Andy Hamflett: AAM Associates, email: andy@aamassociates.com
Giles Hindle: Hull University Business School, email: giles.hindle@hull.ac.uk
Simon Raper: Coppelia, email: Simon@coppelia.io
Simeon Duckworth: email: simeonduckworth@gmail.com

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Background

This report documents Phase Two of applied research into the innovation of food bank operations in the UK. The research is a pilot study of the NEMODE Network+ Research Call 2014. The aim of the project is to investigate the use of technology in changing food bank operations in the UK. The Phase One report details the background to the case and the organisational and technological analysis conducted to arrive at the development of business analytics for the Trussell Trust food bank network (see Hindle et al., 2015 for full details).
The context of the work is food poverty in the UK. In February 2014 the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger and Food Poverty commissioned a Parliamentary Inquiry into hunger and food poverty in Britain, chaired by the Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton, and Frank Field MP. The resulting report – Feeding Britain – was launched in December 2014, based on evidence from more than 400 people across the UK (food poverty, 2014). The report estimated there are 3.5m adults who cannot afford to eat properly in the UK, 500,000 children live in families that can’t afford to feed them, and food prices have risen 47% in last ten years.
The largest food bank network in the UK is the social franchise organised by The Trussell Trust (Defra 2014). The Trussell Trust is a charity with the mission of empowering local communities to combat poverty and exclusion, and operates across the UK. The Trust reports a 40-fold increase in provision of emergency food aid between 2007-08 and 2014-15. 1,084,604 people were given three days’ emergency food and support in the year 2014-15, though these were not all unique users (http://www.trusselltrust.org/stats#our-stats-explained). In parallel with this surge in demand the number of food banks rose from 80 in January 2011 to 435 in September 2015.
The analytics development described here constitutes part of an applied research project into the use of technology in radically changing food bank operations in the UK. It is the result of action research employing Soft Systems Methodology (Checkland and Poulter 2006) and business model mapping (Osterwalder and Pigneur 2010). The project was delivered with the full involvement of the Trussell Trust and followed a process of technology innovation developed by Dr Giles Hindle and Professor Richard Vidgen at the University of Hull (Hindle and Vidgen 2015).