The prevalence and lived experience of food poverty in Northern Ireland

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Food insecurity is the inability to afford/access food in sufficient quantities in a socially acceptable way or the anxiety of being unable to do so. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of our population has experienced food insecurity over time. The Health Survey for Northern Ireland reported in 2017 that 5% had not eaten a substantial meal at least one day in the last fortnight due to a lack of money, with this figure rising to 10% for the most deprived quintile. Ulster’s research found that between one in five and one in three people experienced at least one symptom of food insecurity in 2018. Since Covid-19, official figures (2023) now put food insecurity at 22% in NI. Food insecurity manifests as reduced nutritional quality and variety of food consumed; its prevalence among our working poor and a fear for managing in the future. Occasionally food banks serve as a coping strategy – this is becoming increasingly common with 2% of NI people relying on one in 2022 to help make ends meet. Ulster’s research uncovered an overwhelming sense that the system is broken and the underlying causes must be tackled, with balance being struck between removing the stigma without institutionalising the need.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Apr 2023
EventFood Poverty Symposium - Ulster University Magee Campus, Derry, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 May 20235 May 2023


ConferenceFood Poverty Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


  • Food poverty
  • Food insecurity
  • food banks


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