Food, families and visiting rooms in a women’s prison

Funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme Small research grants (£8,952), this study will adopt a qualitative approach to examine how women in prison and their families experience food in the visiting room.


We will explore how food contributes to improving the quality of visits; and more importantly, how this may strengthen the ties between women and their loved ones. Food is critical in the visiting room for prisoners to engage with their loved ones, yet to date scholars have not paid dedicated attention to this within research on prisons or food and families. 

This study will result in an understanding of the way in which food contributes to the experiences of prisoners and their families in the prison visiting room. 

Research questions

  • What role does food have in relation to prison visits between incarcerated women and their family members?
  • Does the experience of food in the visiting room strengthen relational ties?
  • How do women and family members feel the experience of food in the prison visiting room can be improved, if at all?


This study aims to:

  • Understand how food is utilised in the visiting room to strengthen familial ties between women in prison and their loved ones.
  • Explore the preparation of food in the visiting rooms of a women’s prison.
  • Examine the consumption food as a tool to strengthen social interactions between women, family members and their children.
  • Explore how food can contribute to women adopting their familial roles to bond with their relatives in the visiting room.
  • Reflect on how food is utilised to celebrate special events, i.e. birthdays, religious events; and how women and their families practice this in the visiting rooms.
  • Identify policy and practical recommendations to improve the quality and experience of food in visiting rooms.


Contact us

If you are interested in this project, please email and a member of the project team will contact you.

Related projects

Doing Porridge: Understanding women’s experiences of food in prison

Research groups and centres

Our research is supported by research groups and centres of excellence.

Centre for Criminology

Research themes

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