The Students’ Union are rolling out a new community scheme to help tackle financial and food hardships
Volunteers at the University of Central Lancashire Students’ Union plan to kick off the new academic year with a bid to help tackle the cost of living crisis.
Recent analysis and data from the SU states that more half of students said there were times when they didn’t have enough food while at university. The food hardship survey received 50 responses from students who explained how and when they experienced food poverty.
Students were asked what they do and turn to when their food supply is limited. One response stated: “A girl on my course got me food from a foodbank which helped at that point. Since then, I just try and make what I have, stretch. I have been hungry most days.”
Another said: “Friends or make anything I actually do have like dry foods last as long as possible.”
One student said: “Eat less – only eat one meal a day or if I have enough, I can manage to eat two meals a day.”
One response stated: “I try to budget what I can, save food and plan ahead. For example, half a slice of bread for lunch and the other half for dinner.” And this student wrote: “I don’t eat? Or limit eating to three days/week with smaller meals.”
Others wrote about how they either only drink water, using their overdraft or get support from crisis teams. In addition, the survey revealed that more than 50% stated that they know another student who at some point during their time at UCLan, has also not had enough food for themselves and their household.
As well as the way in which students find themselves struggling, many revealed how they didn’t turn to food banks. Out of the 34 entries who said that at some point during their time at UCLan, they have not had enough food for themselves or their household, 23 of them (67%) had never accessed a food bank.
When responding to why they didn’t reach out to food banks, some students stated that they “don’t know how to”, are “embarrassed”, “felt ashamed” or “didn’t think students were allowed and if it was others would just judge me and think I’m just irresponsible with my money”.
Others stated that they felt they shouldn’t take from food banks, believing that there are people who need it more than them. In September 2022, new and returning students and locals will be able to utilise the new community fridge for times when they need it the most. The Community Fridge is a £4000 project funded by Co-op and will be a student-led volunteering project, open to students and the local community to come and take free surplus food that’s been donated by the University’s food outlets and other local shops.
Odette Yende, Vice President Welfare at the Students’ Union said: “While we only got 50 responses, we found that food hardship largely affects first generation students and is something that also affects their mental health. The community fridge scheme is new and the hope is to alleviate a lot of financial stress from students, from parents and carers and foreign exchange students who are struggling with their finances because we do not want added pressure to affect their academic experience, on student life that comes with struggling with food.
“We know it’s not something we have to do but it is something we want to do to help our student body members. Financial hardship is something that impacts in a wide range of areas, there are social affects and some students struggle in silence.”
One volunteer from the Students’ Union said: “I wanted to get involved in this project because it is a fantastic opportunity to improve food wastage at the University and in Preston. Improving food wastage is a goal of mine, as tonnes of perfectly good food around the world is wasted. I believe food like this should be used in a more effective way, rather than being thrown in the bin. The community fridge allows a more cost-effective way of eating fresh foods. This is important to me as the cost of living has increased, which means that the community fridge can help those who really need it.
“The aims and goals of this project inspired me to get involved, as it can allow fresh food to be used whilst benefiting the local community. This is a really beneficial project and I encourage others to use the fridge and get involved.”
The fridge will be run by student volunteers and with the help of funding and with the aid of donations, the aim is to use the hub as a more accessible way for students and locals to access food when they need it. Students will see the fridge in the new year, September 6th in time for their return.