The cost-of-living crisis is prompting large numbers of parents to skip meals or reduce their portion sizes so their children have enough to eat.
Twenty-nine per cent of parents surveyed said they did not have enough food to feed their children, according to the research commissioned by national children’s charity Barnardos and leading grocery retailer Aldi Ireland.
The survey, carried out by Coyne Research, found that over one in seven parents said they had been regularly unable to afford a main meal for their family or children.
A nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 18-plus were interviewed.
One in five parents said that at some point in the last year they did not have enough food to feed their children.
The survey was conducted to explore both the prevalence and impact of food poverty in Ireland. It is the second survey on the issue. The latest survey found that food poverty has become more of a problem.
It found that more parents are worried about their ability to provide their children with sufficient food. More than one in eight said they were always worrying about it. A further 29pc of parents said they sometimes or occasionally worry about being able to provide their children with enough food. This is higher than last year’s figure of 19pc.
More than one in seven parents said they had been regularly unable to afford a main meal for their family.
Almost three in 10 parents – 29pc – said they had skipped meals or reduced portion sizes so that their children would have enough to eat, a significant increase from 24pc in January last year.
Around four out of 10 parents always or mostly feed their children over themselves.
Barnardos said it has seen a marked increase in demand for its services.
Almost half of those surveyed said they had to cut down on spending on clothes to provide their children with food. And half of parents surveyed said inflation has had a negative impact on pressures to afford food.
One in 10 parents said they had used food banks or received a food donation over the previous 12 months. This is more than double the number from the previous survey.
And 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 CEO Suzanne Connolly 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.”
Ms Connolly said parents tell Barnardos they are often going without food themselves in order to provide food for their children. Their hunger, or that of their child, is a constant and physical reminder of the financial pressure parents are facing, she said.
Stock image of an impoverished child. Photo: Getty Images/EyeEm