Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Sociology, Social topics, Women's and gender studies, Family studies, Social work.

Publication Details

A masters thesis presented to the School of Culinary Arts and Food Technology, TU Dublin, as part of the course MA Gastronomy and Food Studies, May 2019.


Direct Provision was introduced in Ireland during the year 2000. Latest figures show 5,848 asylum seekers are in Direct Provision (RIA, 2018). Physical and mental health research studies have highlighted the challenges within this system (Manandhar et al., 2008). Food provision is one of these challenges. Food, culture, religion, income, and isolation are highlighted in this research study. The key objectives of this research were (1) to review the literature on aspects of food and identity, culture, tribalism, and ethnicity concerning asylum seekers living in Direct Provision in Ireland. (2) To conduct qualitative semi-structured interviews with mothers living in different Direct Provision centres and (3) to assess the importance of their food culture, traditions, and customs. A qualitative questionnaire was used to interview eleven mothers who were living in a variety of Direct Provision centres in both urban and rural Ireland. Each interview was recorded, and the duration was between 60-90 minutes. All interviewees, African (n=10) and Pakistani (n=1) came from a culture with rich food traditions and customs. Fresh natural foods were the staples in their homes. Culture, identity, and religion were found to be inextricably linked to food preparation, cooking, and eating. Food for all meals which is provided to the residents in these centres was found to be unfamiliar, poorly cooked, and unappetising. Many of the children of these mothers refused to eat this food which resulted in their consumption of a very limited number of cheap but affordable unhealthy foods e.g. chips which are energy dense and nutrient dilute. All interviewees expressed their feelings of powerlessness, isolation, and loneliness. These findings suggest that the introduction of an independent living system in each Direct Provision centre would enable mothers to prepare and cook familiar foods for their families. To achieve this goal, the current low weekly allowance needs to be increased to allow the purchase of ethnic and local fresh nutritious foods. Community integration would contribute to the alleviation of social isolation and loneliness e.g. through the introduction of cookery classes that could demonstrate how local foods could be incorporated into healthy affordable meals.


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Food Studies Commons