Maria Mansfield

Maria Mansfield


I bring to my PhD 10 years of academic-related experience from the Environmental Change Institute at The University of Oxford, where I worked as a Research Assistant with senior academics on various qualitative and quantitative research projects alongside working as an MSc Course Coordinator and Event Organiser.  

In 2013 I graduated with a Distinction MSc in Food Policy from City University, where I had become interested in food culture, food poverty and free school meal access.  My dissertation explored the cultural aspects of secondary school dining halls as a way of understanding why free school meal pupils did not claim their free meals.  I also contributed to a study on secondary school pupils’ food choices around schools in a London borough.

I continued my studies in 2018, receiving a 1+3 ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership award at The University of Leeds.  I received a Distinction MA in Social Research (Interdisciplinary) and my dissertation focussed on UK children’s experiences of summer holiday child feeding provision.  I now continue on the ESRC PhD pathway to begin exploring low-income adolescent experiences of the school holidays.  

Research interests

My PhD focusses on adolescent lived experiences of holiday hunger during school holidays.  Specifically, I am interested in the effects of a potential lack of nutritious food and social stimulation on adolescent wellbeing, from a children’s rights perspective.  The research aims to better advocate for children in future policy changes on school holiday food and activity provision.  The research has broadened to include parents and adult caregivers, due to COVID-19 restrictions and the temporary changes in government policy toward free school meal provision during the holidays and is situated amongst austerity and welfare cuts which have hit children especially hard. 

My research will consist of focus groups and interviews with adolescents and caregivers using a participatory research philosophy, to explore whether low-income families are constrained during school holidays and gain a deeper understanding of their needs and requirements to have a fulfilling school holiday experience. 

 My wider research interests include:

  • Food insecurity
  • Free school meal provision
  • Holiday hunger and holiday food and activity schemes
  • Participatory research
  • Activism and power
  • Poverty and inequality
  • Sociological perspectives of childhood

Professional activities

I am a reviewer for the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice.

Relevant sites

Research groups


  • MA Social Research (Interdisciplinary), Distinction – University of Leeds (2019)
  • MSc Food Policy, Distinction – City University, London (2013)
  • Advanced Diploma in Environmental Conservation, Distinction – University of Oxford (2005)
  • BSc Behavioural Science – The University of Northampton (1999)