Worker’s Party Cllr Ted Tynan revealed details of the “desperate case” at a Cork City Council meeting last night which backed calls for a national poverty strategy.
Mr Tynan said the seven-year-old collapsed in the classroom. Social services were alerted and the child was examined by a doctor.
Mr Tynan said the social worker assigned to the case was reluctant to describe the child as malnourished, but confirmed the child was “severely undernourished”.
Malnourishment is inadequate nutrition and can occur even if a person is getting enough food.
Undernourishment is a lack of nutrients because you are not getting enough food. The condition can lead to learning difficulties.
“This is happening in 2012. This is an example of the serious situation in this country,” said Mr Tynan.
He said the child’s mother, who was surviving on social welfare payments, had an empty fridge last Wednesday and could not afford to restock it until this Thursday.
“I would appeal to the ‘political elite’ to think about that seven-year-old child and that mother, when they’re thinking about bailing out any more gangsters or criminals.”
Cllr Mick Finn (Ind), who works with schools in disadvantaged areas on the city’s southside, said support service shortages were threatening a similar crisis on the southside.
The situation comes a month after a Department of Health-backed report said one in five children were going to school without eating breakfast or going to bed without a proper meal.
St Vincent de Paul Cork branch chief Brendan Dempsey said the undernourishment case was “bound to happen”.
“700,000 people are on the breadline living in poverty, 200,000 are children, and I know of mothers and fathers going hungry to feed their children.
“Two or three years ago we were being asked for shoes or help with the rent. Now we are simply being asked for food. The politicians are living with their heads in the clouds.”