Our Right to Food: affording to eat well in Scotland

This project helps us understand what the right to food looks like for families living in Scotland, and how we’ll know if we’re making progress. It starts by exploring what people in Scotland would choose as a healthy and enjoyable way to eat so that rights holders and decision makers can better identify how to make this accessible for all.

We are working with groups of Community Advisors, people who know what it is like to shop for, prepare and eat food in different household sizes across Scotland. Together, we are developing weekly meal plans and shopping lists that reflect the realities of people’s lives and preferences, while aiming for a ‘good enough’ fit with Scotland’s dietary recommendations. We are progressing this work with support from experts in social security, public health, nutrition, sustainability and human rights.

Our Vision

Image of groceries with mixed fruit, veg and bread.

A Scotland where everyone can afford the food that keeps them healthy and well.

Everyone should be able to afford the food that keeps them healthy and well, but this does not mean that food should be cheap. It means wages and benefits should be high enough that people can afford the food that helps everyone in the family live a healthy life, without having to sacrifice on other basic needs like heating.

So, if it’s not just about food prices, then how will we know what to do?

Local and national governments already make many decisions that affect how easy or difficult it is for people to afford the food they need. This project will help us understand what decision makers can do to ensure that everyone can afford the foods that keep them healthy and well. For example, the new Scottish Child Payment means that eligible families can access £40 every four weeks to help with the costs of raising a child under six, and prepaid Best Start Foods cards help eligible families buy healthy foods for children under three. At local level, things like reliable public transport and decisions about where shops are located can determine whether someone is able to afford a variety of healthy foods or be left with no choice but to eat less nutritious food that can be accessed nearby. By working with rights holders across Scotland, we will develop shared ways to measure the progress these decisions make.

Community Advisors

We are working alongside people who know what it is like to shop for, prepare and eat food in different parts of Scotland and in different sized households. In the first phase of the project, we are working with groups to develop meal plans and shopping lists for:

  • A small family (single mum and two young children)
  • A large family (two adults and three or more children)

Community Advisors work with the project team to develop weekly shopping lists for these family sizes that strike a balance of foods –

  • ‘Healthy enough’ (to keep the family members healthy and well)
  • Reasonable price
  • Good fit for the family’s life
  • Most people would enjoy 

What will Community Advisors do?

Work with the project team to build a family’s weekly shopping list based on the following questions:

  • Who lives and eats in this this household?
  • When, where and how does the family eat?
  • What does the family eat in a typical week?
  • What would the family need to include in a balanced weekly shopping list?

Next steps

Once these shopping lists are finalised, local and national decision makers will be able to explore how accessible (geographically and financially) they are for people in different parts of Scotland.


Steering Group

Fruit and veg in shop

We are grateful to our steering group members for their advice and support for this project:

  • Action on Sugar
  • Broke Not Broken
  • City University
  • Food Standards Scotland
  • Food, Farming and Countryside Commission
  • Loughborough University
  • Making Rights Real
  • Obesity Action Scotland
  • Public Health Scotland
  • Robert Gordon University
  • Scottish Government
  • University of Ulster