Food poverty is classified as the inability to afford an adequate and nutritious diet. The phrase has been used before to refer to hunger in Ireland, but resurfaced in 2012 with the global recession and continues to plague the country.
Here are nine facts about hunger in Ireland:
- Despite an increase in median incomes since 2010, there were still almost 800,000 people living in poverty in Ireland in 2015, surviving on less than $13,354 per year.
- Due to these low incomes, many citizens have experienced a lack of basic needs. In particular, people are struggling to gain access to healthy foods. According to the Department of Social Protection, hunger in Ireland affected one in eight people in 2013.
- Safefood, an organization that focuses on informing citizens about food safety and nutrition, defines the three factors of food poverty in Ireland as follows: a person cannot afford a meal with meat or a vegetarian equivalent every second day; a person cannot afford a weekly roast dinner or vegetarian equivalent; or a person missed a meal in the last two weeks due to a lack of money.
- The average cost of a healthy bag of groceries ranges between 15 percent and 36 percent of a low-income person’s salary each week, and largely depends on the family composition. This cost went down slightly from 2014 to 2016.
- More than one million tons of food is wasted every year in Ireland, and 60 percent of this waste could be avoided. Annually, this equates to $783.72 per household.
- Research team Focus Ireland has suggestions for some policy frameworks that can play a key role in “tackling food poverty.” These include a national policy on social inclusion and anti-poverty, social welfare policy and provision, a national policy on health promotion and a planning and development policy.
- One in five Irish children goes to school or bed hungry. Fortunately, more than 500 breakfast clubs have opened in schools and communities to increase attendance and participation throughout the school day by making sure children are fed a nutritious meal.
- Safefood will be funding 13 “community food initiatives” between 2016 and 2018. The initiatives aim to work on a local level to teach families how to eat healthily on a budget, prepare food safely and inspire a healthy lifestyle.
- A nonprofit called FoodCloud helps supermarkets and other businesses reduce food waste through a new app. Businesses can connect with local charities and organizations to redistribute the food by sharing a description of items on FoodCloud’s app or website.
While food poverty in Ireland is improving, it is still not eradicated. Because food poverty involves many aspects and policies, an aligned front must be formed in order to continue to move in the right direction.
– Madeline Boeding