More than a meal: a qualitative study of the needs of diners in Cork Penny Dinners

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Magee, Denis
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Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork
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Background to the Study: This study began as a BSW dissertation, and as part of the Science Shop initiative by University College Cork. Research was carried out in Cork Penny Dinners, an independent charity based in Cork city. The charity provides a nourishing mid-day meal, seven days a week all year round. The charity hopes to reconfigure their existing service, and consequently sought the views of the diner’s, with a view to including their perspectives in the planning process. Objectives: The aim of this study was to elicit the views of the diners of Cork Penny Dinners, in order to ascertain if the charity could improve on its current level of service. Interviews were conducted with a sample of the diners to gain their perspectives of the service, and a brief demographic profile compiled. A literature review was undertaken to explore the themes of food poverty, social exclusion and social support. Methodology: The methodology used was qualitative while the theoretical perspectives utilised were phenomenology and interpretivism. Primary research was executed by means of twenty semi-structured interviews with diners, and a further eight with volunteers. A literature review was conducted as secondary research. Results: All of the respondents expressed satisfaction with the service provided by Cork Penny Dinners. A sense of sincere gratitude was evident throughout all of the interviews conducted. The diner’s spoke of the non-judgemental and courteous approach adopted by staff and volunteers when using the service. Eighty five percent of respondents reported having some social support from family or friends, however, seventy percent of the sample lived alone. A large percentage of respondents stated that the possibility of spending time in the company of other diner’s was an important aspect of their visit. Insufficient income and food poverty were dominant issues in the lives of diners. All of these findings are discussed in greater detail in chapter four. 8 Recommendations: All respondents expressed complete satisfaction with the quality of the midday meal they receive. Some structural changes to the layout of the premises were suggested by diners in addition to extended opening times. These recommendations and other individual suggestions are discussed in more detail in chapter five. Author’s conclusions: This was a rewarding and interesting research project. Although the diners made recommendations, their satisfaction with and gratitude for the service is noteworthy. It has been a privilege to work with the diners, staff and volunteers of Cork Penny Dinners, and above all, to facilitate in bringing the voices of the diners to the fore.
Food poverty , Social support , Cork Penny Dinners , Diners
Magee, D. (2012) More than a meal: a qualitative study of the needs of diners in Cork Penny Dinners. Cork: Community-Academic Research Links, University College Cork.
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© 2012, Denis Magee.