Low income households need to spend at least one quarter of their income to purchase a basket of food that would be both acceptable and healthy, according to research.
Safefood found the weekly cost of a healthy food basket ranged from €66 for a single pensioner to €165 for a family of two adults and two children, with households in rural areas facing bigger food costs compared with urban households. Given that many household costs such as rent are fixed, food is often regarded as the flexible spend in a household budget and the last item that needs to be paid for. This leads to those living on low incomes at particular risk of a poor diet.
Dr Bernadette MacMahon, director of the Vincentian Partnership for Social Justice, said: "Without a minimum adequate income, having a nutritious and healthy diet is an ongoing struggle for many low-income households in Ireland today. Food poverty is the inevitable consequence for a large proportion of these households."
Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director, Human Health and Nutrition, Safefood, said: "Food poverty can have both short and long-term health effects on children and adults. Families living on stretched budgets eat less well and on a day-to-day basis can have poorer energy levels.
"Longer term, the consequences can be a shorter life expectancy and higher rates of diet-related chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain cancers."
Health & Living