Low income families have to spend one third of income on food

New research by safefood has revealed some families on low income need to spend up to one third (33 percent) of their take home income to afford a basic food basket that is acceptable and meets nutritional needs. In general, households on a low-income tend to eat less well, have poorer health outcomes with higher levels of excess weight and its complications.

The report found that the composition and location of households had an impact on costs; those households with children, in particular with teenagers, and those living in rural areas need to spend more. Households where the only income was from state benefits spent a larger percentage of income on food than those households where one adult is in employment.

Introducing the report, Ray Dolan, CEO, safefood said, “This study confirms how food poverty is an everyday reality for one in 10 households in Ireland. Managing on a tight budget means that families with children, single adults living alone and pensioners have to make stark choices in how they spend their money. Food spending is the flexible element of the household budget and people often fill up on cheap food that’s nutritionally poor when prioritising other bills that need to be paid.”

Continuing, Dr Marian O’Reilly, Chief Specialist in Nutrition, safefood said; “While there has been a small decline in the proportion of income needed to be spent on an acceptable and nutritious food basket, it’s still very high. At safefood, we are supporting low-income households through our Community Food Initiatives programme, practical online resources to help with meal planning, and our START campaign to help achieve small wins in the weekly food basket that will have a positive impact on our health. We’re also working hard to maintain the importance of Food Poverty as a policy issue”.

Research lead Dr Bernadette MacMahon of the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice continued; “This is our third report into the cost of a basic but healthy food basket in the Republic of Ireland. Because the contents of the food baskets in our study were put together by people themselves as a minimum to meet their nutritional, social and psychological needs, this gives us an evidence-based measure that is grounded in the lived experience of Irish households.”

The research found the cost of a healthy food basket for different² low-income household types: A two-parent, two-child household needs to spend between 22 percent and 33 percent of income (€128 to €153 a week). A one-parent, two-child family, needs to spend between 15 percent and 28 percent of income (€97 a week). In addition, for a retired couple dependent on the State pension, the cost of a healthy food basket is 19 percent of income (€83 per week).

The report “What is the cost of a healthy food basket in the Republic of Ireland in 2018?” is available to download from www.safefood.eu



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