Food Aid spending must act as a wake-up call for Govt to reduce poverty levels – O’Dea

Published on: 02 January 2019

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Employment Affairs & Social Protection Willie O’Dea says new figures on food aid spending point to a wider issue relating to poverty and the fact that the recovery is not being felt by everyone. Statistics reveal that at the end of November approximately €8.9m had been spent in Ireland on food aid through the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD).

FEAD supports the actions of EU countries to provide material/food assistance to the most deprived. Funding of €3.8bn is available via the FEAD between 2014 and 2020.  The total value of the fund in Ireland for the period 2014 to 2020 is €26.7m, €4m of which will come from the Irish Exchequer.

Deputy O’Dea said, “While this fund is welcome, it is worrying that a significant number of people are dependent on this fund for food, which is a most basic necessity. From the information I received, approximately €8.9m has been spent on food aid as of the end of November 2018.

“Furthermore, it was also revealed that in 2017, though a network of charitable partnership organisations, the Department distributed almost 1,000 tonnes of food to almost 96,000 people in communities throughout the country, either in the form of food parcels or as meals prepared by a charitable organisation.

“The latest data on poverty and social exclusion in Ireland does reveal that the figures are moving in the right direction, however, there are far too many people are struggling to make ends meet: almost 1 in 5 children are at risk of poverty; 44% of lone parents are experiencing deprivation, and 24% of people who cannot work due to an illness or disability are in consistent poverty.

“Coupled with this we have a homeless crisis of unprecedented proportions and 10,000 people living in emergency accommodation. The reality is that for many people in Ireland there is still no recovery and they are dependent on charity for basic necessities. This won’t change unless the government implements policies that address the imbalance and inequality that currently exists in Irish society”, concluded Deputy O’Dea.

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