UCCSU’s food bank is used by approximately 20 students a week

Sonja Tutty

University College Cork (UCC) opened a student food bank to help students struggling financially and are seeing roughly 20 students using the service per week.

UCC Students’ Union (UCCSU) decided to open the service due to the increasing number of students experiencing financial struggles who they cannot immediately help.

UCCSU’s Welfare Officer, Naoise Crowley told The College View that the service not only helps feed students but hopes that, “by providing this basic level of necessity we may help the most vulnerable students in UCC, while also impacting positively on academic performance and mental health.”

The food bank is supported and assisted by local charities who deliver the food once a week, and the food is then distributed to students in need in their Student Union’s building.

Rent in Cork City increased by 7.1% last year and the average rent paid by tenants stands at €1,177 a month.

As more students are entering third level education and 20,000 students attending UCC, many are forced to enter private rental accommodation. Many are then having to pay over €200 a week.

UCCSU said the rent increase are pushing students into poverty, and leave many unable to pay for food.

DCUSU Welfare and Equality officer, Aisling Fagan said she thinks these food banks are not only a good idea but are necessary.  “Students struggle financially on a daily basis and this is one way they can be helped,” she explained.

She went on to point out DCU’s food bank run by the Raising and Giving (RAG) society. It was set up three years ago when RAG were contacted by DCU Chaplaincy about the desperate need to assist students struggling financially.

RAG Chairperson, Emily McNamara said, “We then used the chaplain as a point of contact between us and the students and their identities remained anonymous to protect their dignity.”

However, unlike UCC’s food bank, DCU’s asks students to send a weekly shopping list and the food is then left in the interfaith centre for collection. They use the chaplain as a point of contact between them and the students so their identities are anonymous.

Additionally, DCU only sees an average of three students a year availing of the service compared to UCC’s average of 20 students a week. “We are aware that there are plenty more students that may need this service but are not aware of it.” McNamara said.

Sonja Tutty

Image Credit: Camp Pendelton