Pic Supplied by Barnardos and Aldi Ireland
A study by supermarket giant Aldi and the charity Barnardos shows that quarter of Leinster families, including those in Kildare, fear they cannot provide food for their children.
In addition, it found that nearly three in 10 people in Ireland have witnessed child food poverty first-hand.
The online survey was conducted by Amárach Research on behalf of Aldi Ireland and Barnardos between January 12 - 7 2022, and included a national sample of 1,130 adults over the age of 18.
Commenting on the launch of the research, Suzanne Connolly, CEO of Barnardos said: "These research 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, 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."
She continued: "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.
Pic supplied by Aldi Ireland and Barnardos
"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," she concluded.
Niall O’Connor, Group Managing Director of Aldi Ireland added: "The work that 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."
The survey found that 6 per cent of Leinster parents feel "close" to food poverty, while families are particularly affected by this issue, with 11 per cent of parents and those looking after children in Leinster skipping meals in an average week in order to feed the children in their care.
This statistic increases to almost 30 per cent when including those who report doing so "occasionally."
19 per cent of those looking after children across Ireland said they have skipped meals themselves or reduced portion size, so their family and children have enough to eat, increasing to 40 per cent of those not working.
Furthermore, 55 per cent of parents in Leinster 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 per cent) among those not working, including homemakers throughout the country.
The emotional impact this experience has on parents in Leinster is significant with one quarter (25 per cent) often worried about not being able to provide food for children in their care, again increasing to 34 per cent of those not working nationwide.
Of the quarter who worry, the biggest impact on their concerns about providing food was rising costs and pressure on household finances (81 per cent of all parents in Ireland who worry).
In the study, parents across the country who are concerned about food described themselves as feeling "stressed" (36 per cent) said they "worried about the future" (33 per cent), and felt "guilty" (30 per cent), about their current situation, among other negative emotions.
With nearly 3 in 10 people witnessing child food poverty first-hand, the long-lasting impact of this on children was also observed: three in four (74 per cent) 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 per cent).
Food poverty also affected the child’s education (65 per cent) and ability to maintain relationships (44 per cent).
Aldi Ireland has said that it has raised over €450,000 for Barnardos to date through a series of initiatives, including the launch of its first cookbook ‘Home’, alongside the IRFU, with all profits going towards Barnardos’ Early Years and Family Support Services.
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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