Kent's Right to Food story so far

Our story so far

One year ago, the University of Kent, in partnership with The Food Foundation, committed to becoming a Right to Food University.  

Today we celebrate how far we’ve come in achieving the four missions we set and what’s next for the initiative. 

What is a Right to Food University?

In March 2022, Michael Fakhri, UN Rapporteur for The Right to Food, visited the Centre for Critical International Law at The University of Kent. During his lecture, Michael Fakhri posed the question, “what would a Right to Food University look like?” 

Inspired by this, we committed to becoming a Right to Food University, setting out 4 key missions: 

1. Putting the Right to Food on the World Stage
2. Transforming Food Systems through teaching and research
3. Tackling food insecurity, while promoting a healthy and sustainable food community at the University
4. Addressing food inequality in our region.  

The partnership with the Food Foundation gives the University of Kent access to a wealth of knowledge about the food industry and how to bring about change in this space as well as giving our students the chance to be part of a national movement. 


We are proud to be working with Kent on its trail-blazing initiative. Not only does this commitment help tackle the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, but it also paves the way for a bigger role in modelling a food system which is fit for the future."

Anna Taylor, Executive Director, Food Foundation

Celebrating success

Over the last year the University has been working hard to on the four missions that we believe will establish us as a Right to food University. We’ve been busy embedding the right to food in new modules, engaging with our wider community to tackle food insecurity, giving our students a range of opportunities to engage with and question the world of food, and conducting research that’s having a real-world impact on the food system.  

Tackling the cost of living

As well as the challenges being faced right across the food system and the increasing environmental crisis, Kent became a Right to Food University in response to the rising cost of living pressure felt by everyone - from staff and students to our wider community.

The on campus £3 meal deal has been a big success for staff and students – over 60,000 of these have been sold, 1 in 20 by our staff – and proven invaluable to many students struggling with the cost of living. 

Recent graduate Kieran Webb said: 

“Now that I’ve graduated, one of the biggest things I’ve missed was a £3 cooked meal. I felt too proud to ask for help when it came to eating and my budget, so this helped make sure I was well fed at times when I was really struggling. Glad to see it’s still going and is clearly getting used plenty by current students.” 

Alongside the £3 meal deal and reduced prices across our catering outlets, last year's Giving Week raised £18,000 to provide meals for students facing hardship. Some of this money was used to fund a free hot breakfast for our students on Monday 26th February, while the rest of it will provide financial support for students who need it the most. 

Using our expertise to bring about change

At the heart of the RTF movement we use our academic expertise to bring about change – through world-leading research as well as embedding the right to food in our curriculum.

One area being tackled by our research is the huge problem of food waste. Our academics are working on projects that reduce, re-use and reprocess food waste. This includes finding value in waste through projects like a recent UKRI funded one working with producers to develop a novel approach to using fruit waste to create new healthy foods to reprocessing waste, to reprocessing waste such as our Biochar project where, instead of burning, farm waste is converted to biochar which can be applied to the land and improve soil health. 

Outside of the research at Kent, we are tackling waste through our gleaning project. Led by student Rapheal Mutu and in collaboration with the student union and Produced in Kent, the project sees staff and students volunteer to help harvest surplus produce from local farms which is then redistributed to those who need it.

We are also embedding the commitment through teaching, including the launch of a new module for Architecture students – Food futures – which sees students tackle the huge challenge of feeding the urban global population. Drawing on the University’s Right to Food Initiative, students will consider the impacts that food poverty has, and reflect on how good design can engender positive movement in food provision and culture.

The future of the movement

Looking forward to the future of being a Right to Food University Iain Wilkinson, Right to Food lead at the University of Kent says: ‘We are extremely proud of all we’ve achieved in our first year of being a Right to Food university. From tackling food insecurity on campus to starting to make an impact on a regional and national level through our research, teaching and civic mission, we’ve taken the first steps of the journey and laid the path for the next ones. 

We know there is still more to be done, but we’re excited about the future and ready to bring about more positive change to the wider food system.’

What's next for us?

One of our key goals is to track our progress as a Right to Food institution and share the knowledge and expertise gained with fellow universities, the wider Kent region, and the rest of the world.

Over the coming months we will be looking to share our expertise and findings with other universities through a Pilot scheme – which will see several institutions embark on their own Right to Food journey. 

After this pilot scheme we will launch a blueprint for all HEI’s who would like to become Right to Food Universities.   

This will include:

  • How To guides
  • Case studies 
  • A framework to help universities join the movement.

If you'd like to know more, or ask about being involved in our pilot scheme, get in touch.