Food for Thought was an ESRC funded project led by Drs. Ruth Emond, Samantha Punch and Ian McIntosh of the University of Stirling. Its purpose was to develop a set of resources that builds on the findings of a previous study on food and children in residential care (Food and Care study – FaCS).

The resources are primarily intended for foster carers and residential staff involved in the day to day care of looked after children and young people. They encourage adults, and children, to  reflect on how food is used socially:

  • making and sustaining relationships
  • recovering from past hurt
  • communicating feelings
  • creating a sense of identity and belonging
  • challenging and resisting as well as many others.

The intention is not to give set answers or ‘how to’ strategies but to support individual reflection and discussion on the uses of food as a medium for delivering attuned and responsive care and support.

These resources will:

  1.  Promote awareness and understanding of the symbolic uses of food
  2.  Equip foster carers/staff with knowledge, skills and resources to observe and understand the food and food practices being undertaken by the child they are caring for
  3.  Facilitate staff/foster carers’ reflection on their own food related interventions and how these might be maximised to therapeutic ends

Tell us what you think of the resources.


The resources were developed by a partnership  of

The Food for Thought partnership would like to thank all the children, foster carers and residential staff who took part in the original FaCS study as well as the Food For Thought project. We are so grateful that you were willing to share your experiences with us. The academic team would also personally like to thank the Steering Group members: Stuart Eno, John Kelleher, Jane Alcorn, Ian Watson, Claire Lightowler, Ian Phillip and Laura Steckley. Your advice, energy, ideas and commitment has been outstanding throughout the project and we could not have done it without you.

The team is also  grateful to Fosterplus for allowing Ailsa Brannan to contribute to the project.