More than 40% of parents have reduced food intake to ensure their children are fed

More Than 40% Of Parents Have Reduced Food Intake To Ensure Their Children Are Fed
Children's charity Barnardos said it was disturbing that so many parents were struggling to put food on the table for their children
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Vivienne Clarke

New research has found that 41 per cent of parents have skipped meals or reduced portion sizes to ensure their children have food.

Suzanne Connolly, the chief executive of children’s charity Barnardos told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne show that the findings of the survey, which was conducted in conjunction with supermarket chain Aldi, were “stark” and “heartbreaking”.


Ms Connolly said it was disturbing that so many parents were struggling to put food on the table for their children in a wealthy country like Ireland.

The survey, of a representative sample of 1,000 adults conducted by Coyne Research, found that food insecurity in families with children is worsening with more parents cutting back on their own food, borrowing money for food, relying on food banks, and cutting back on spending on other household activities, including clothing, household bills, medical costs and children's activities.

Almost one quarter (24 per cent) had to borrow money to feed a child in the last year, up from 16 per cent in October 2022 and 11 per cent in January 2022. In addition, 21 per cent of families have had to cut back on children’s activities to afford food.

“Some parents would say that they've cut back on medical bills, like 25 per cent cut back on medical bills, 30 per cent on other household costs. And we know it's only 29 per cent of parents who aren't worried at all. So most parents out there today are worried about the cost of food and how to make ends meet in their family home.


“We all know that the price of food has gone up. We all know going to the supermarket when we do our weekly shop, that's increased. It's just that that increase is stark for families living on fixed income or on less income than some of us are able to enjoy. And in Barnardos, it breaks your heart to think that people parents have to worry, have the anxiety and the stress of thinking ‘can I afford to feed myself well?’

“Parents would always put their children first. Of course they will. But they're worried themselves about just the capacity to have that nice, relaxing meal with their children without worrying about how much food is being eaten. And what we're calling for in Barnardos is the Government to really take this on board. They have improved in budgets, done something in terms of one off costs universally and that's been welcomed. But they need targeted more. They also need to publish a food insecurity plan, which targets specific measures which will make a difference to families today in Ireland.”

Ms Connolly said the Government needed to think about the best way to spend the available resources to benefit children and parents.

“We recognise that there's enough demands on the public purse, but there's nothing more basic than that. Having decent, nutritious food every day for children and their parents. It's a basic in society, and that's what we do.”


“It's really important that we continue to ensure that there is fresh food available at relatively cheap prices. But also if you think about if you're very stressed and worried, it takes a lot of effort to actually cook and prepare a meal.”

Ms Connolly added that while the provision of school meals was important, there also needed to be ways to provide meals during holidays and that was where local communities and sporting organisation could assist in “non-stigmatising and accessible ways”.

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