Sharp rise in food poverty revealed in “alarming” survey this morning

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Immediate government action is needed after an “alarming” survey published by Barnardos this morning shows food poverty worsening among children and families, local TD Claire Kerrane has said.

The survey found that 1 in 5 (19%) parents did not have enough food to feed their children at some point in the last year, with 1 in 7 parents (16%) being unable to afford a main meal for their family regularly.

It shows a sharp rise in food poverty in the last year with 29% of parents finding themselves worrying about their ability to feed their children.

This is significantly higher than was found in January 2022 when the figure was 19%.

The use of food banks and food donations has also doubled in the same time-frame with 1 in 10 parents relying on such supports.

Speaking in response to the survey, Sinn Féin’s Claire Kerrane said rising levels of food poverty among children and families is “a sad indictment of Ireland in 2023.”

“The survey is not just about levels of food poverty, but the impact this has on children and parents when it comes to their mental health and well-being, and for children – their development,” she said.

“While Government can pat themselves on the back for record unemployment and Budget surplus’, we are in a situation where parents aren’t eating so they can feed their children and children are going hungry.”

Deputy Kerrane said this is unacceptable, and in a country as rich as Ireland, it is ‘unforgivable’.

“I am calling on the Minister for Social Protection to immediately engage directly with Barnardos and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) on the findings of this survey. Both are under increasing pressure trying to support families.”

The Roscommon-Galway TD also called for greater urgency on moving social welfare rates to the Minimum Essential Standard of Living, a Living Wage to ensure work pays, the introduction of a cost of disability for disabled persons and cross Departmental targeted actions to tackle child poverty.