Over a quarter of Spaniards skip meals for lack of money

by Lorraine Williamson
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26% of Spaniards admit they skip meals to save money, a figure that rises to 41% in households with incomes below €15,000.

The study provides insight into the causes of child hunger. It also gathered information to help alleviate the negative effects of food poverty through initiatives such as Kellogg’s school breakfast programme ‘Todos a Desayunar‘ and collaboration with food banks. 

Also, it updates research conducted in 2016 in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Sweden and Belgium. This makes it possible to observe changes in the situation in these countries, taking into account the impact of the economic crisis due to the pandemic and other recent socio-economic events. 

Spain stands out positively in Europe 

The data show that Spain stands out positively from its European neighbours. Compared to France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the UK and Ireland, and despite the fact that the situation in Spain has worsened since 2016, it is the country with the fewest families with economic difficulties to eat. It is 17.7%, in the UK it is 29.3% and in France and Germany 25.5% and 21.3% respectively. 

Most affected 

61% of Spaniards say that recent socio-economic events are complicating their financial situation and that those most affected are families with an income of less than €15,000, as more than a third (36%) have reduced their spending on essential goods and services. 

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Moreover, a third of Spaniards say they are worried about the money they have for food. In 2016, this was 19%. This rising trend can also be seen in other neighbouring countries. In Germany, it even went from 8% in 2016 to 36%, the highest figure among the countries surveyed. 

Impact on children 

According to teachers, the number of children coming to school hungry has increased in recent years. In Spain, two in three teachers (66%) believe parents have problems with food budgets. Reasons include the economic situation, rising food prices and the difficulty of finding a steady job. Moreover, hunger affects the performance of children, who experience fatigue, concentration problems, low mood and even disruptive behaviour in class, according to Spanish teachers. 

Breakfast increasingly skipped 

Despite the fact that Spaniards attach importance to breakfast, the number of people who do not have breakfast every morning has almost doubled in Spain, from 4% in 2016 to 7% in 2023. Although most of them say they do not eat breakfast because they are not hungry or do not have time, 5% say they do not eat breakfast so other family members can have breakfast and 3% say they cannot afford it. 

Among households with an income of less than €15,000, these percentages are 14% and 5% respectively. “These data support the need and benefits of offering breakfast at school, as the Todos a Desayunar programme has been doing since 2011. With this, some 10,000 children between 4 and 12 years already have breakfast in 24 schools in 12 Spanish cities. More than a million breakfasts have been served, improving children’s living conditions at school, in the family and on social and personal levels,” Kellogg reported about the programme. 

Also read: High food prices affect the diet of Spaniards

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