Research finds one quarter of families worry about providing food for children

Pictured at the launch of new research by Barnardos Ireland and Aldi Ireland are (L-R) Suzanne Connolly, Barnardos CEO, Niall O’Connor, Aldi Ireland group managing director, RJ and Ella

New research from Barnardos and Aldi Ireland shows the impact of food poverty on families and children

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22 February 2022 | 0

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New research launched today by national children’s charity Barnardos and Aldi Ireland, found that 25% of parents often worry about not being able to provide food for their children and nearly three in 10 people in Ireland have witnessed child food poverty first-hand. The research came as Barnardos hosted a forum on child food poverty earlier today, supported by Aldi Ireland.

The new research, conducted by Amárach Research on behalf of Barnardos and Aldi Ireland, explores both the prevalence and impact of food poverty in Ireland on vulnerable children and families. The study found that 9% of parents feel “close” to food poverty.

Families are particularly affected by this issue, with 10% of parents and those looking after children skipping meals in an average week in order to feed the children in their care, increasing to almost 30% when including those who report doing so “occasionally”. 19% of those looking after children said they have skipped meals themselves or reduced portion size, so their family and children have enough to eat, increasing to 40% of those not working.

The harsh impact of food poverty on families and children was evident in the study’s findings. 51% of parents stated they have in the past cut down spending in other areas such as household and medical bills, loan repayments, and transport to afford food. This rose to nearly two-thirds (62%) among those not working, including homemakers.

The emotional impact this experience has on parents is significant with one quarter (25%) often worried about not being able to provide food for children in their care, again increasing to 34% of those not working. Of the one quarter who worry, the biggest impact on their concerns about providing food was rising costs and pressure on household finances (81% of parents who worry). In the study, parents who are concerned about food described themselves as feeling “stressed” (36%), “worried about the future” (33%), and “guilty” (30%), about their current situation, among other negative emotions.

With nearly three in 10 people witnessing child food poverty first-hand, the long-lasting impact of this on children was also observed. Three in four (74%) of those who witnessed child food poverty first-hand noticed an impact on the child’s physical development, while a similarly high number saw how it affected their social and emotional development (70%). Food poverty also affected the child’s education (65%) and ability to maintain relationships (44%).

The research comes as Barnardos hosts a forum on child food poverty, “Food Poverty – the lifelong impact for vulnerable children and families”, supported by Aldi Ireland.  The online event aims to be an educational platform to help raise awareness of the prevalence and impact of food insecurity on children and families in Ireland.

“These research findings align with Barnardos experience of working with vulnerable children and families in communities across Ireland,” said Suzanne Connolly, CEO Barnardos. “We see far too many families, often one parent families, deprived of access to fundamental life essentials such as food and heat. Parents tell us of the very difficult decisions they are forced to make to keep their family fed, by either going without a meal themselves, or needing to turn off their heating in order buy food – with one respondent saying they feel like a failure.

“We know that a child who is hungry, cannot concentrate which is why food is such a key part of many of Barnardos services – from providing meals to children daily, and providing families with food parcels to take home,” she added. “Access to affordable nutritious food is key to a child’s development and has a lifelong positive impact on a child.  Our partnership with Aldi Ireland allows us to support families where access to food and the impact that has on a family, is a very real problem.”

“The work Barnardos does to support vulnerable families and children very much reflects Aldi’s values and we are fully committed to raising €1 million for the charity, helping to provide 10,000 warm meals to vulnerable children at their centres and a range of other essential supports,” said Niall O’Connor, group managing director of Aldi Ireland.

To support Barnardos’ services to vulnerable children and families in Ireland, Aldi customers can text KIDS to 50300 to donate €4 [Text costs €4. Barnardos will receive a minimum of €3.60. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 01 481 9311.].

 

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