Demand for food banks doubled during the worst of the lockdown, according to a charity.
FoodCloud said between March and June this year, 968 tonnes of food, equating to 2.3 million meals, were distributed through retail partners and FoodCloud’s three hubs.
FoodCloud redistributes surplus food from supermarket chains to charities who work with those at risk from poverty.
On Friday four of Ireland's largest retailers, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Eurospar are unveiling a new food initiative by FoodCloud called "Food For Ireland".
Research carried out among 121 of FoodCloud’s charity partners identified a 70 per cent increase in demand for food as a result of Covid-19.
The research found that there are three groups within society most affected by the gap in supply of food; those over 65 years of age (49 per cent), single parents (36 per cent ) and people with mental health concerns (30 per cent).
The research also established the cause of this surge in demand for food with the majority (77 per cent ) citing the impact of Covid-19 on household income and the financial pressure as a result of loss of income, 33 per cent referenced the closure of schools and access to meals and snacks for kids, and 37 per cent said it was a result of self-isolation with many of whom could afford food, but could not access it due to the on-going restrictions.
FoodCloud chief executive Iseult Ward said: "No-one should go hungry during the Covid-19 pandemic; however, the reality is there are hundreds and thousands of vulnerable families and people in communities across our island who cannot get access to food.
"Whilst tackling the environmental issue of food waste remains critical to our core climate objectives, we are now calling again on people of Ireland to work collectively for the greater good of society. We are in uncharted territory and although we may not be able to do all that is necessary, we must try and do all that is possible.
“This initiative shows how business can be at the forefront of leading social change providing a lifeline to those who need food the most”.
As part of the Food For Ireland initiative, participating retailers will host a national food appeal in over 400 stores across Ireland from September 17th - 20th in an attempt to meet the target of 280,000 meals which is the immediate need. Across the four days, shoppers can donate much needed non-perishable food which will then be redistributed directly to charities across Ireland who have highlighted a shortage.
The food items that are needed most include: breakfast cereals, cooking sauces, hot drinks, rice and pasta, tinned soups and beans and tinned fruits including tomatoes.
Once the food items have been collected from retailers nationwide, FoodCloud will work with over 320 volunteers over a four-week period to redistribute the goods to over 250 charities across Ireland who have highlighted a deficit in food supply.
More information on the Food For Ireland initiative is available here: www.foodcloud.ie.