Code Division - Food Poverty Learner Project

Learner Projects

Food Poverty Project Spotlight

Research and data analysis of food poverty in recent years (2015 - 2022)

Data Accelerator Course, Cohort January - May 2022

food bank

Are we really seeing the big picture when it comes to the cost of living crisis?

In January 2022, writer and activist Jack Monroe highlighted flaws in the data used to calculate inflation.

Compelled by the worsening cost of living crisis, our learners launched an investigation into the reality of food poverty in Scotland.

Project Overview


Food Poverty in the UK

This project investigates the factors behind food poverty in the UK and local communities by looking at data from local charities in Scotland, as well as nation-wide data from the UK and the Scottish government.

Conducting multi-layered research across charitable and governmental organisations, their findings demonstrate the dangers of data bias & the true cost of the crisis.

Charities Surveyed

Data from local charities and governmental organisations were searched, including the Clutha Trust, the Trussell Trust, the Food Foundation, Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), as well as the UK and Scottish Governments and Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Key Findings

The main question at the core of this study was: Is the data established by governmental bodies matching the reality and insight claimed by third sector groups and individuals and what are the main parameters relating to the current Food Poverty crisis?

Download full report here

From 2019 to 2020, the number of emergency food parcels distributed by 83 independent food banks rose by



In 2021



of individuals reported an increase in their cost of living

Childhood food poverty

In 2019 - 2020, 25% of all children lived in households with marginal, low, or very low food security. This rises to 50% for those in absolute poverty and 51% for those in relative poverty.

Food parcels

Number of 3-day parcels distributed by 83 independent food banks in the UK, Feb to Nov 2019 and 2020. This clearly demonstrates the increase in food distribution. One of the main reasons attributed to the dramatic UK-wide increase during this period is in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We faced a number of challenges during the project life cycle, it was never an easy ride working on a project as complex as this and remotely. At first there was a challenge of collecting the real-world datasets and then the reliability of the data itself due to the bias factor of COVID19 pandemic and the lack of data. Then there were the challenges of transforming, cleaning, and modelling the data for the required information. l used Python and Excel for this part of the data analysis process, and for the Data Visualisation, Charts and the Project Dashboard creation part I used Pandas, Excel, and Power BI, all the skills learnt during the course, in collaboration with my team."

Imran Farooqui Data Skills Accelerator Course

Summary of findings

As published by IFAN in their annual report - Independent Food Bank Emergency Food Parcel Distribution in the UK - 83 independent food banks distributed a total of 168,560 emergency food parcels between February and November 2019 while for February to November 2020 this figure rose to 354,613 emergency food parcels - a rise of 110%.

As reported by The Food Foundation, over the period August 2020 to January 2021, 4.7 million adults (9% of all households) have experienced food insecurity. This includes 1.6 million adults who report having had to go a whole day without eating due to not being able to afford or access food. Food insecurity levels remain higher than pre-Covid-19.

The largest numbers of food parcels distributed are in the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and the central belt between Glasgow and Edinburgh which are the most densely populated areas in Scotland.

The UK wage growth has generally lagged the cost of living over the last decade. This divergence is most marked from around March 2021 onwards when the sustained, steep rise in the cost of food, energy and household goods pushed inflation to a 30-year high. The consequence of this is increased pressure on household budgets, with the greatest impact being felt by those with low incomes. There is growing concern that some households are having to make tough choices between food and heating.

Low-income households spend a higher percentage of their budget on food, housing, and energy. Poorest households spend nearly 40% in contrast to the richest who spend just under 20%.

The main conclusion of the report is that there is a confirmed rise in Food Poverty over the years as recorded by Third Sector groups and governmental departments.

Power BI

The project utilised Power BI to bring interactive data visualisations and make data more accessible to all

Learner thoughts about the project

"The team project was the final part of the Data Accelator course and was the perfect opportunity to put the Data Analysis skills we have acquired into practice. It was an excellent team work experience and we received great support throughout our research and analysis journey on the topic of food poverty."

Ellen Sakkoula Data Skills Accelerator Course

"The project provided me an excellent opportunity to gain hands on practical experience of working with the real-world data. A practical experience of working within a team, a remote working, collaborating, communicating with members of the team through Slack channels and SpatialChat group meetings, as well as emailing some of the potential dataset suppliers."

Imran Farooqui Data Skills Accelerator Course

"This project gave me a brilliant opportunity to apply what I have learned during the past months of training. Working within a group setting was very exciting and effective. We discovered and employed each other's skills and experience well. I participated in coordination and communication, reviewing and finalising ideas, organising the final report, and creating the visuals and illustrations designing to reflect the data analysis done."

Wafa Eltahir Data Skills Accelerator Course

Why projects matter?

Building a portfolio is important

At Code Division we help our learners build a portfolio of their work to showcase their skills and achievements.

We challenge our learners to work on socially-responsible topics, which shed light on current issues and bring them into focus using data.


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