A SHOCKING 450,000 people are living in food poverty here, new research reveals.
A study commissioned by the Department of Social Protection found that 10pc of the population are unable to afford certain basic meals.
Families with three or more children are the most likely to fall below the food poverty line.
St Vincent de Paul today issued a stark warning about the serious poverty facing families across Ireland.
The organisation says it is encountering situations whereby people are surviving on "bags of crisps".
The authors of the report found that people on low incomes and lone parents were among those most at risk of falling into poverty.
Officials carried out a survey across the country and asked these three questions:
Can you afford a meal with meat -- or vegetarian equivalent -- every second day? Can you afford a weekly roast? Have you missed a substantial meal over a full day in the last fortnight due to a lack of money?
It was found that 10pc of those surveyed experienced as least one of these factors and are classified as suffering from food poverty.
Caroline Carney, if the Department of Social Protection, said that several different groups were hit.
"We found in our research that certain groups like families with three or more children, lone parent families, the unemployed, people on low incomes and also people with poor health, or the ill or disabled, are most at risk of food poverty," she added.
Brendan Dempsey, of St Vincent de Paul, said the situation was as stark as ever. "We've seen cases where adults on their own miss a meal. They stay in bed in the morning, especially on weekends. They stay in bed and just miss a meal.
"I've seen cases where dads survive on a bag of crisps until the main meal in the evening."
The study carried out by the department is the first of its kind in Ireland as up to now there has been no definition to measure 'food poverty'.