More than 40% of parents have denied themselves food to ensure their children have enough, survey shows

Adults cutting back to ensure children have enough to eat, according to Barnardos research

New research from children’s charity Barnardos has found that 41 per cent of parents have denied themselves food to ensure their children have enough.

Barnardos chief executive Suzanne Connolly said the research findings, which was conducted in conjunction with supermarket chain Aldi, were “stark” and “heartbreaking”.

She said it was disturbing that in a wealthy country, so many parents were struggling to put food on the table for their children.

The research, a survey, of 1,000 adults, was conducted by Coyne Research. It found food insecurity in families with children is worsening with more parents cutting back on their own food, borrowing money for food, relying on food banks, and cutting back on spending on other household activities, including clothing, household bills, medical costs and children’s activities.


Almost one-quarter of parents had to borrow money to feed a child in the last year, up from 16 per cent in October 2022 and 11 per cent in January 2022. In addition, 21 per cent of families have had to cut back on children’s activities to afford food.

“Some parents would say that they’ve cut back on medical bills, like 25 per cent cut back on medical bills, 30 per cent on other household costs. And we know it’s only 29 per cent of parents who aren’t worried at all. So most parents out there today are worried about the cost of food and how to make ends meet in their family home,” Ms Connolly told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

“We all know that the price of food has gone up … It’s just that that increase is stark for families living on fixed income or on less income than some of us are able to enjoy,” she said.

“Parents would always put their children first. Of course, they will. But they’re worried themselves about just the capacity to have that nice, relaxing meal with their children without worrying about how much food is being eaten. And what we’re calling for in Barnardos is the Government to really take this on board. They have improved in budgets, done something in terms of one-off costs universally and that has been welcomed.”

She said a more targeted approach was needed. “They also need to publish a food insecurity plan, which targets specific measures which will make a difference to families today in Ireland,” said Ms Connolly.

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Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist