Irish Food,  Opinion

Over Half A Million Hungry Irish People

1 in 5 children either go to school hungry or to bed hungry due to lack of food in the household1.

1 in 10 adults say that they cannot afford to feed themselves a healthy diet on the amount of money they have to live on2.

In 2011, there were 1,148,687 children in Ireland3, 1/5 of them go hungry at some point in the day. That’s just under 230,000 children that are hungry today.

The Republic of Ireland has a population of 4.59 million4, with 3.028 million of them being aged 25 and over4. 1 in 10 of these adults say they can’t afford to feed themselves a healthy diet. That’s just under 303,000 adults who also either go hungry or don’t eat the right food because of their budget, today.

Add those two figures of children and adults, today in Ireland, who are going without. Rounded down, it’s approximately 530,000 or  over half a million inhabitants of the Republic of Ireland.

Why don’t we hear more about these people; men, women and children who are struggling to eat adequately? How come there isn’t more of a furore on social media, in newspapers, on the television and elsewhere?

Food poverty is an indicator of a person being at their lowest ebb. If you can’t afford food what can you afford? Methods of communication like a phone, internet, money to spend on transport, all of these are more than likely luxuries. It’s likely that a person who is struggling with their food budget has already cut back on their light and heat to save money and they may be in arrears on their rent or mortgage.

There is a history of social shame associated with being on the breadline. It’s not something people feel comfortable talking about. There’s the fear that if you go looking for official help, that your children may be taken into care, the fear that somebody else in your community would know your personal situation and judge you.

The indicators of food poverty aren’t obvious but up and down the country 1 in 9 of the men, women and children you walk past on the street more than likely are hungry and/or malnourished today.

We live in the age of the consumer. We consume social media, celebrity news, buy brands that are associated with lifestyles that we aspire to. The person/celebrity shouting the loudest gets the biggest headline, and the most amount of discussion. For the person in food poverty it’s not a loud shout. It’s a whisper on the phone to the local St Vincent de Paul, a meek queue outside of Cork Penny Dinners or the Capuchin Brothers in Dublin, it’s sneaking into the local supermarket in the evening to check out the reduced food at the end of the day.

It’s a silent prayer of parents tucking their hungry children into bed tonight, that tomorrow will be better.

  1. Healthy Food For All Ireland.
  2. OECD Economic Survey of Ireland 2013.
  3. State of the Nation’s Children Report: Ireland 2012.
  4. CSO Population & Migration Estimates April 2013.
  5. CSO Population By Age 2011.

I'm an Irish mother to 2 boys, born & bred in Dublin, Ireland. I like to cook simple & fresh food for the family, with the family on a budget.


  • Wholesome Ireland

    It is shocking. To be fair my stats aren’t recent. I wish I had more up to date ones but I don’t. This is the best I can do with the information available to me. I do see food poverty in my locality, more than you’d realise.

  • Mike

    I presume most of these people are on social welfare. Unless they are spending the money on other things there is no excuse to be hungry, a bowl of porridge is 7 cent and you can buy plenty vegetables for less than the cost of producing them. What these people need is a lesson in cooking and money budgeting.

    • Caitriona Redmond

      I absolutely agree that education is key in helping people to eat on a budget. However social welfare might not always stretch to cover all the bills – especially if you’re renting in a high-demand area like Dublin.

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