BY JOHN ELLIS, FINANCIAL ADVISOR
The airwaves and papers are full of the hardships that people are going through especially those who have young families. Currently the Government is speaking about for all intents and purposes a mini-Budget with a new cache of helps coming down the line for those in need. It cannot come soon enough for many, for, according to the new survey launched recently by Barnardo’s Ireland in conjunction with leading grocery retailer Aldi Ireland, parents are distraught that hunger is a constant physical reminder of the financial pressure they are under and are troubled by the hard decisions they have to make every day.
The research conducted by Coyne Research explored both the prevalence and impact of food poverty in Ireland. They wanted to understand how many children in Ireland are living in homes in which parents report they are struggling to provide them with enough food.
It is the second survey on the issue, with the results finding that, between January and November last year, food poverty had worsened for children and families across the country. One in 10 parents (10%) said they had used food banks over the previous 12 months, more than double the number from the previous survey (4%). One in five parents (19%) stated over the past 12 months at some point they did not have enough food to feed their children, up from 15% in January 2022.
One quarter of parents had to cut down on household bills such as gas and electricity to afford food costs over the past 12 months. 29% of parents said they had skipped meals or reduced portion sizes so that their children would have enough to eat, up from 24% from January 2022.
Similarly, 39% of parents always/mostly/occasionally feed children over themselves, compared to 28% in January 2022.
To help combat this situation Barnardos and Aldi have extended their partnership for a further two years, continuing Aldi’s commitment to shield families from rising costs and continue to provide “access to quality, affordable, nutritious food without compromise”.
Barnardos has seen a marked increase in demand for its services and is concerned about the toll that soaring bills are having on families’ mental health with almost half of parents surveyed (47%) saying that inflation has had a negative impact on their ability to provide food, with almost one in five (17%) saying it had a very negative impact.
Equally, an increasingly large proportion of children are living in homes where parents are relying more and more on vouchers from voluntary organisations or food packages from friends and family to provide their children with sufficient food.
Commenting on the results, Suzanne Connolly, CEO Barnardos said: “These findings align with Barnardos experience of working with vulnerable children and families in communities across Ireland. We see far too many families, often one parent families, really worried about being able to provide their children with enough food.
“Parents tell us that they are often going without food themselves in order to provide food for their children, or else are having to rely on others to get the food for them.”
Niall O’Connor, Group Managing Director of Aldi Ireland, said: “It’s clear from this research that the cost-of-living crisis is having a very negative effect on children and families across the country. Everyone deserves to have access to affordable, nutritious food and, as a leading family retailer, we promise to continue to shield our customers by providing the weekly grocery shop at the lowest possible prices.”
Hopefully Government commitment will be more than just firing money at the situation as this cannot continue indefinitely.