Research shows 29% of parents skipped meals or reduced portion sizes so that their children would have enough to eat, in the last 12 months. ALDI reiterates its commitment to supporting Barnardos and helping tackle food poverty.
- One in ten 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 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 in order 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.
A new survey launched today by national children’s charity Barnardos and leading grocery retailer ALDI Ireland, found that more than one in seven parents (16%) said that they had been regularly unable to afford a main meal for their family/children and one in five (19%) of parents stated that at some point in the last year they did not have enough food to feed their children.
The new survey, conducted by Coyne Research on behalf of Barnardos and partner ALDI Ireland, explores both the prevalence and impact of food poverty in Ireland. 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. In November 2022, Barnardos and ALDI Ireland announced an extension of their partnership for a further two years. The retailer has reiterated its continued commitment to deliver value for its customers, shield them from rising costs and always provide them with access to quality, affordable, nutritious food without compromise.
More parents are worried about their ability to provide their children with sufficient food. More than one in eight (13%) said they were always worrying about it (up from one in twenty – 6% – last January). A further 29% of parents said they sometimes or occasionally worry about being able to provide their children with sufficient food, significantly higher than the January 2022 figure (19%).
Parents making sacrifices to feed their children
Barnardos and ALDI Ireland wanted to understand how many children in Ireland are living in homes in which parents report they are struggling to provide children with enough food. More than one in seven parents (16%) said that they had been regularly unable to afford a main meal for their family/children with meat/vegetarian equivalent as often as they would like, up from 10% in the previous survey. Twenty-nine per cent of parents said they had skipped meals or reduced portion sizes so that their children would have enough to eat, a significant increase from 24% in January 2022. Similarly, 39% of parents always/mostly/occasionally feed children over themselves, compared to 28% in January 2022.
Parents reducing spending in other areas to provide food
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. Almost half of those surveyed (43%) said they had to cut down on spending on clothes to provide their children with food, up from 36% in January 2022. 25% said they had to prioritise food over other household bills such as gas and electricity, up from 18%. Almost half of parents surveyed (47%) said that inflation has had a negative impact on pressures to afford food, with almost one in five (17%) saying it had a very negative impact.
Increased reliance on food banks and food donations
Alarmingly, one in ten parents (10%) said they had used food banks or received a food donation over the previous 12 months – more than double the number from the previous survey (4%). 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 in order to provide their children with sufficient food. Barnardos services has witnessed an increased need and demand for support around food over the past year, with staff reporting that more parents than ever are requesting food vouchers.
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. Their hunger, or that of their child’s, is a constant and physical reminder of the financial pressure and of the hard decisions they have to make every day. This is taking an emotional and physical toll on parents across the country.
We know that childhood lasts a lifetime – and hunger puts a child’s emotional, physical and overall wellbeing at risk – which is why food is such a key part of many of Barnardos services. Similarly, parents who are constantly worried about food can’t focus on their children’s needs as much as they would like to”.
Niall O’Connor, Group Managing Director of ALDI Ireland added:
“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. With so many of the most vulnerable people in our society clearly struggling to put food on the table, essential services like those provided by Barnardos are critical.
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.
We’re incredibly proud of the work we’ve done with Barnardos, and we know that together with our valued customers, we can continue to make a substantial difference in tackling food poverty and supporting vulnerable families through this difficult time.”
*New survey results from Barnardos and ALDI Ireland carried out by Coyne Research on the impact of food poverty on families and children – field dates: 20th October – 1st November 2022. A nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18+ were interviewed.
Notes to Editors
For further information, please contact Barnardos Press Office: 086 0445966
• Report: Food Insecurity in Ireland – Impact on children and their parents
• Link to previous findings – Child Food Poverty Survey February 2022
About the partnership
ALDI and Barnardos began working together in 2020 with the goal of raising €1 million to support vulnerable children and families in Ireland. Together, they’ve created incredible impact, supporting over 100 families with specialised counselling, intensive parenting support or practical advice, 1,000 children to be school ready in the Early Years Services and provide 10,000 warm meals to children attending Barnardos services.
ALDI and Barnardos have since announced the extension of our partnership for another two years. This will see ALDI committing to raising a further €1 million for Barnardos through a two-year programme of fundraising initiatives, at a time when it is needed most.
ALDI and FoodCloud
As well as its partnership with Barnardos, ALDI works closely with charity partners FoodCloud, supporting their efforts to ensure voluntary and community groups across Ireland including food banks, have access to food to support those who need it most. To date, the retailer has donated over 2.6 million meals through its FoodCloud partnership.
Barnardos Recommendations for Government
More needs to be done to make sure children are not going without food and are not going without other necessities as a result of the provision of food. Action needs to be taken to support parents who are constantly worried about the issue and follow through on the government’s commitment to ensure no child goes hungry. These should include:
- Introduce a food poverty action plan through the new Child Poverty and Wellbeing Unit
- Continued progress in rolling out hot school meals programme within schools
- Provide additional targeted supports to low-income families
- Guarantee speedier decisions around additional needs payments where they relate to food costs and children