The Minister for Social Inclusion is calling for free hot meals to be extended to early childcare settings as part of a new plan to tackle food poverty.
The report by Minister of State Joe O’Brien aims to map out how the Government can reach its aim of reducing the number of people living in poverty in Ireland to two per cent by 2025.
It says 8.9 per cent of the population are currently in food poverty, while 6.2 per cent are in “severe food deprivation”. Food poverty is defined as “the inability to have an adequate and nutritious diet due to issues of affordability or accessibility”.
The Minister will publish the report ‘Food Poverty: Government Programmes, Schemes and Supports’ on Monday, showing five government departments already spend €400 million a year mitigating the worst impacts of food poverty.
However, he says they could be “doing more” on an increasingly serious social problem.
The Minister is also calling for an expansion of the meals-on-wheels programme targeting older people, the ramping up of the ‘food dudes’ healthy eating initiative operated in some primary schools, and significant increases in welfare payments targeted at children to help tackle the issue.