Accessibility statement

‌The Role of Food in Older Adults’ Everyday Lives

A Collaborative Initiative with Marks & Spencer (M&S)

About the project

This project was launched in October 2018. The research team spent five months recruiting participants through our partners, local community groups and friends. We have worked alongside our participants, attending their everyday activities, such as their weekly meetings at local lunch clubs and community cafés. The participants have produced over 200 photographs during this period.

The ‘snapshots’ in this exhibition document our participants’ mundane shopping, cooking and eating practices, and their social lives with their friends and family members. You can also see captions of their stories to understand how diverse life circumstances, such as becoming a grandparent or a carer, living alone and so on, have impacted on their food choices and their everyday practices and eating arrangements.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our participants for their commitment, for taking photographs and for letting us be a part of their everyday activities. We also would like to thank our partners and local community groups, including the M&S Company Archive, Clements Hall and St Oswald’s Church in York for helping us recruit our participants and providing space for interviews.

Photography exhibition

My Life of Food

Photography Exhibition

29 April – 28 June 2019

Launch Date: 12:00 PM, Monday  29 April, 2019

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10.00 – 17.00

Entry: Free

Exhibition venue: The Marks & Spencer Company Archive Building (Michael Marks Building, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT) See the location on a map.

Welcome to ‘My Life of Food’ photography exhibition. It is based on a study – The Role of Food in Older Adults’ Everyday Lives. This research project is a collaboration between the Department of Sociology, University of York, and the M&S Company Archive. It is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Marks & Spencer and the University of York.

The photographs in this exhibition are all composed and taken by 18 adults, all aged over 60 and from different gender, class and ethnic backgrounds, and experiencing different life circumstances. They have documented their everyday food practices with simple cameras – basic point and shoot digital cameras, their mobile phones or tablets.

We hope to highlight the meanings of food through our participants’ shopping, cooking and eating routines, and how these practices might have changed in light of their changing life circumstances – such as retirement, losing their partner, living alone, becoming a grandparent, becoming a carer and so on.  In so doing, we hope to bring to light the importance of food as ‘material of care’, illustrating the participants’ own ways of caring – for themselves, for others, and with others through the lens of food.


  • ESRC IAA/Business Boost Grant
  • The Marks & Spencer Company Archive

ESRC logo         M&S archives logo

Our team

Principal Investigator: Dr Wes Lin

Co-Investigator: Professor Sarah Nettleton 

Researcher: Ms Manli Zhu

Researcher: Ms Manasa Gade


Contact details


Twitter: @MyLifeofFood1

Instagram: mylifeoffood

Postal Address: Dr Wes Lin, Department of Sociology, University of York, YO10 5DD, York