Rising cost of living ‘forcing students to use food banks’

 

Growing numbers of students are turning to food banks as they struggle to afford to feed themselves, leaders of the National Union of Students (NUS) will warn on Monday.

The call for action on student poverty comes as one institution – in Hull, where the students’ union offers food parcels to those in need with the backing of the university – said the numbers taking advantage of its service have doubled in the past 12 months to 200.

Many other universities are now considering setting up their own schemes, Brittany Tomlinson, the NUS student welfare officer at Hull University, told The Independent.

“Last year it was nearly 100,” she said of demand for food parcels. “This year it has gone up to 200. The reasons are the rise in the cost of living and also some students are getting their student loans quite late. We’re lucky here with the support we’ve got for the food-parcel service from the university,” she said.

“There is no question that this is a growing trend. I know five or six unions [at different universities] across the country which are planning to do something.”

Colum McGuire, vice-president of the NUS, said: “Student unions have been in touch with us to raise the alarm that there is an increase in the number of students using food banks. We are really concerned about this.

“We all know that students incur an automatic debt by choosing education but what I don’t think people know enough about is the day-to-day cost of living.

“People are struggling... Our members report that they have to provide food parcels to students who literally cannot afford to eat.”

In addition to the Hull initiative, further education students at Walsall College in the west Midlands have begun issuing vouchers to allow three-days’ emergency access to the Black Country Food Bank. The college is also offering free breakfasts.

At Wolverhampton, the university is offering free loans to first-year students who are experiencing delays with funding.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said a higher number of disadvantaged students than ever were going to university, adding: “Over half a million are eligible for more non-repayable grants for living costs in 2012-13 than the previous year and almost  1 million students are eligible for more maintenance support in 2012-13 than students were in 2011-12... Young people don’t have to pay upfront to go to university.”

A spokeswoman for the Student Loans Company said there had been no delays to payments, but there was a surge of late applications by students “even after term started”.

In October and November, it received 70,000 applications “meaning many students were starting university without having their finances in place as they hadn’t submitted an application to us”.

* A university chaplain has told how he has referred five students to food banks within his city in the past fortnight.

Sunderland University chaplain, Reverend Chris Howson, said he had seen a record number of people having to resort to using food banks in the past year. 

He was speaking as four workers from Sunderland Minster went hungry for a day to highlight the plight of people living on the breadline.

“The Minster has had to deal with a record number of people going hungry,” he said. “The bigger picture is the massive need for food banks.

“We want to make the point that in the UK today no-one should have to rely on food parcels.  In universities across the country, students are having to take food out (from food banks).”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Trainee / Graduate Helpdesk Analyst

£20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable business is looking to rec...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Data Analyst - Essex - £25,000

£23500 - £25000 per annum + Training: Ashdown Group: Graduate Data analyst/Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Account Manager

£16000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Account Manager is r...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Manager / Sales Executive

£18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Account Man...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness