Over 500,000 people in Ireland availed of the EEC Free Food Scheme at a time when there was a surplus of butter, beef, cereals and skimmed milk.

Over half a million people have benefited from the EEC Free Food Scheme over the past eight weeks. However, the scheme is now coming to an end. So what now for a family with six children living on £111.05 a week?

The demand for food parcels has exceeded all expectations.

Now that the scheme has ended, Kevin Linehan investigates what happens to the people dependent on the scheme. 

There's no shortage of food in Ireland.

There is an excess of meat in Ireland and many people struggle to afford to buy it. Much of this excess meat ends up boned and packed in boxes, piled high in a cold storage depot in Tallaght in west Dublin. With no one to buy the meat, it goes into intervention where it becomes part of the EEC food mountain. 

The Irish food mountain consists of 165,000 tonnes of butter, 143,000 tonnes of beef, as well as cereals and skimmed milk powder. 

This is our so-called food surplus.

Under the EEC Free Food Scheme, some of this surplus has found its way to Irish dinner tables. There were some queues on the streets of Dublin as well as food being discretely distributed through charitable organisations. 

Kevin Linehan meets the Lynch family who lives on Russell Street in Dublin and benefited from the scheme. Unemployed with six children and another on the way, the Lynch family struggle to survive and will greatly miss the scheme now that it has come to an end. Jean Lynch describes what life is like living on the breadline surviving on £111.05 a week. 

The Lynches are not a unique case. There are 1.1 million people dependent on social welfare.

Don Mahony of the St Vincent de Paul describes how the focus of their work has shifted from the sick and the elderly to unemployed families. 

What we are giving them is the difference between their survival as a family and their non-survival.

An 'Evening Extra' report broadcast on 31 March 1987. The reporter is Kevin Linehan.