10% of Irish population affected by food poverty

‘Food deserts’ and bad planning letting takeaways be built near community gardens and youth facilities are part of a growing food poverty problem, a conference heard yesterday.

The ‘Healthy Food For All’ national conference heard that, last year, the Department of Social Protection estimated 10% of the population are hit by food poverty — up 3 percentage points from 2011.

Healthy Food For All chairwoman Marjo Moonen said certain households were more vulnerable to food poverty, in particular unemployed households and lone-parent households with more than one child.

A presentation by the Vincentian Partnership of examples of social welfare-dependent households and their food spend suggested a one-parent family with children aged 10 and 15 will spend an average of €123.24 a week on food — or 38.1% of its income.

The Vincentian Partnership also outlined the cost of a child, estimated direct weekly costs of €90.89 for an infant, €54.84 for a child of pre-school age, €88.19 for a primary school child, and €137.66 for a child at second level.

Weekly food expenditure for these children was €31.25, €24.26, €37.48, and €49.82 respectively.

Ms Moonen said the expansion of breakfast clubs was vital to stem child hunger, and said the school meals programme should also be extended.

The conference heard 13% of Irish children never have a weekday breakfast and that 21% go to school or bed hungry every day.


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