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BACKGROUND: Food membership clubs that charge a small fee for a set number of items are in place in Wessex to address food insecurity (inadequate reliable access to sufficient affordable, nutritious food). These clubs incorporate longer-term solutions such as budgeting support, benefit maximisation, and cooking skills. The Wessex DIET project was established to measure acceptability and impact of these clubs. Given the paucity of evidence on the prevalence of food insecurity in those accessing such clubs, we aimed to quantify food insecurity and assess diet quality and wellbeing at recruitment. METHODS: In this mixed-methods study, we recruited individuals accessing food clubs in Wessex from March 31 to July 31, 2022. Participants provided informed consent and completed a survey (paper or online) at recruitment that collected data on diet and health. We used the modified six-item US Department of Agriculture (USDA) food security survey module. Follow-up surveys were administered after use of clubs (planned for 3, 6, and 12 months). Participants were invited to participate in a semi-structured interview. We used data from the baseline survey to quantify food insecurity and assess diet quality and wellbeing at point of first access to food clubs. FINDINGS: Of 97 participants recruited, five (5%) were aged 18-24 years, 15 (15%) 25-34 years, 48 (49%) 35-54 years, 13 (13%) 55-64 years, and nine (9%) 65 years and older (seven [7%] did not report their age). 69 (71%) participants were female and 23 (24%) were male (five [5%] did not respond to this question), 79 (81%) were White, and 65 (67%) reported having at least one dependent child. 55 (57%) reported skipping or cutting size of meals because there was not enough money for food. Food security status was calculated in 74 participants who answered all six questions of the USDA module, with 30 (41%) reporting low food security and 32 (43%) reporting very low food security. 31 (32%) of 97 participants reported rarely or never eating fruit, with 23 (24%) eating fruit at least once a day. The most common reported frequency of vegetable consumption was 2-3 times a week (26, 27%) and 4-6 times a week (23, 24%). 12 participants agreed to an interview. The clubs were well received, with participants noticing an improvement in their diet and finances. INTERPRETATION: This study highlights the high prevalence of food insecurity in those accessing food clubs in Wessex, which is expected in a population using food aid, and positive reflections from participants regarding their diet quality after using this service. Findings might not be generalisable nationally. Follow-up will assess impact of the clubs on food insecurity, diet quality and wellbeing, contributing to the evidence base of the effectiveness of food clubs to address these outcomes. FUNDING: National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration Wessex.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date



402 Suppl 1


Female, Humans, Male, Diet, Family Characteristics, Food Insecurity, Food Supply, Surveys and Questionnaires, Adolescent, Young Adult, Adult, Middle Aged, Aged