Eastern Arc Conference 2023: Food in a Time of Crisis

Our food system is increasingly dysfunctional. Events such as the pandemic and the Ukrainian war have demonstrated how fragile it is, with production and supply disrupted and costs spiralling. When food is available, there is a fierce debate about the nutritional benefits of processed products, the long-term impacts on population health, and even the morality and sustainability of dietary choices.

Our conference this year, taking place on 20 September 2023 at the Canterbury campus of the University of Kent, will be a chance to debate these issues. Bringing together academics, researchers, businesses, policy-makers, charities and other organisations, this is an opportunity to explore the issues, make connections and start to work together to identify solutions to the current crisis we’re in.


The event is taking place in the Sibson Building at the University of Kent campus. Registration will be in the Sibson atrium, and the sessions will take place in:

  • Lecture Theatre 1
  • Seminar Rooms 1-4


The programme is given below, and available to print out as a pdf here.

Time Session
09:30-10:00 Registration

Lecture Theatre 1

Opening remarks

Phil Ward, Director of Eastern Arc


Lecture Theatre 1


Professor Karen Cox, Vice Chancellor, University of Kent


Lecture Theatre 1

Opening keynote

Dr Rob Barker (University of Kent)

11:15-11:45 Coffee
11:45-13:00 Morning Breakout Sessions
Breakout session 1

Seminar Room 3

The ‘Right to Food’ university 

Dr Philip Pothen (University of Kent) and Tilde Ferree (Food Foundation)

Breakout session 2

Seminar Room 1

ManufacTuring food with robotics and AI

Dr Vishwanathan Mohan (University of Essex) and Paul Laniran (Innovate UK)

Breakout session 3

Lecture Theatre 1

Food systems under pressure: Getting to equitable and sustainable in East Anglia and Kent

Dr Natasha GristProf Andrew Fearne and Alex Larter (University of East Anglia), Floortje Hoette (Produced in Kent), and James Smith (Loddington Farms Ltd)

Breakout session 4

Seminar Room 2

How does social care support older adults’ food and drink-related needs?

Dr Lavinia Bertini (Brighton and Sussex Medical School) and Dr Stacey Rand (University of Kent)

13:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:15 Afternoon Breakout Sessions
Breakout session 5

Seminar Room 2

A more resilient food future? The challenges and opportunities of charitable food supply chains

Dr Jordon Lazell  and Dr Debashree De (University of Essex), Maz Aspillaga and Ben Mann (Essex County Council); Alison Losdiska and John Hailes (Laindon Community Supermarket)

Breakout session 6

Lecture Theatre 1

Strengthening the link between academia and the food & drink industries

Alex Larter (University of East Anglia) and Sophie Packer (University of Kent)

Breakout session 7

Seminar Room 1

Urban agriculture, food and global crises

Dr Silvio Caputo and Dr William Rowlandson (University of Kent)

Breakout session 8

Seminar Room 3

You are what you eat: migration, food and story

Dr Jordan Savage (University of Essex)

15:15-15:30 Coffee

Lecture Theatre 1

A seismic shift: How can we work across boundaries to make change happen? 

Dr Laura Bardon (Quadram Institute Biosciences), Khanh Mach (Quorn Foods), Beth Metson (Soil Association Exchange), and Clara Widdison (Nesta)

16:30-18:00 Wine reception and networking event

Getting to the venue

The Conference will be taking place in the Sibson Building on the Canterbury campus of the University of Kent. 

  • Address: Park Wood Rd, Canterbury CT2 7PE
  • Location on the University of Kent campus map, including details of each of the rooms in which the Conference will take place (Lecture Theatre 1, and seminar rooms 1-3)
  • Location on Google maps
  • Location via what3words: reward.repelled.parks

Travel to the venue

A coach will be available free of charge for those travelling from Norwich (UEA) and Colchester (University of Essex). Times and pick up points are as follows:

  • 05:15: Congregation Hall, UEA
  • 07:15: Car Park A, University of Essex, Colchester Campus
  • 09:30: Arrive at the University of Kent, Canterbury Campus
  • 17:30: Depart from the University of Kent, in front of the Ingram Building

If travelling independently, the University is on the edge of Canterbury, which is served by two train stations: Canterbury East and Canterbury West. The closest one to the University is Canterbury West, and it is served by a high speed train from London (approx 55 mins). If you’re coming from Essex or UEA, change trains at Stratford, walk through the Westfield shopping centre, and get the train to Canterbury from Stratford International. 

From the stations, the University is a 25 minute walk from Canterbury West, or 45 minutes from Canterbury East. It is a 12 or 18 minute cycle ride. 

Buses leave every 30 minutes and take about 20 minutes. Take the Uni1, Uni2 or the Triangle from the front of the stations. There are taxi ranks outside both stations, or you can prebook using any of these services.

If coming by car, there is parking, and the Pavilion and Sports Centre car parks are closest to the Sibson Building. A limited number of parking permits are available, but on a first come, first served basis; contact info@easternarc.ac.uk if you need one.