A Swansea Uni food bank was emptied by students in 30 minutes on its opening day

The provisions were supposed to last one week

A food bank for Swansea University students which had supplies to last a week was emptied within 30 minutes on its opening day.

The food bank, which opened on 21st November, was supported by the university’s Student’s Union in a bid to help students who may be struggling in the current cost of living crisis. 

The President of the Student’s Union said that “some students are in a desperate state and using food banks” and that they were not expecting so many students on the campus to need food parcels, with nearly 40 bags given out in half an hour.

Alongside supporting the food bank, Swansea University’s Student’s Union has hosted free breakfast events and has run a period poverty campaign to provide students with free access to menstrual products. A welfare officer within the university said that students were expressing concern about being able to afford basic necessities.

The president of the Student’s Union, Esyllt Rosser, said she believes the Welsh and UK governments have forgotten that “students are a thing” and that “students are always an afterthought” as the cap on energy bills does not benefit students in shared houses and student accommodations. 

A spokesperson from the National Union of Students Wales had previously warned that dropouts could increase if pursuing higher education became less affordable for students. Recent statistics show that 42 per cent of students were living on less than £100 a month and 90 per cent of students said that the cost of living crisis was negatively impacting their mental well-being. The Union warned that “students in Wales are at breaking point, with no help in sight from either the UK or Welsh Governments”. 

The Union also stated that “many [students] can no longer afford to travel to placements and to their campuses” and that “it is the students from the poorest backgrounds who are being disproportionately affected”. 

A first-year student at Swansea University described how the cost of living crisis has led him to have to return to his home in Bedford throughout the term. He said: “My loan doesn’t even cover my rent. I’ve had to dig into my savings which I’ve worked hard for over the last three years”. Another third-year geology student said: “We go out a lot less and going out to eat is off the table now. It’s too expensive”. 

In response to the ongoing crisis, a Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Living costs should never be a barrier to studying at university, which is why Wales provides the most generous living costs grants in the UK. This year alone we have committed to spend more than £1.6bn on schemes that target the cost-of-living crisis”.  

In helping students with costs of living, Cardiff University’s Students’ Union introduced a programme this term called “Feed your Flat” that provides students with essential food products such as pasta, lentils and rice. The programme also provides students with recipe ideas with similar base ingredients to maximise the number of meals that can be made with the ingredients. More information about the scheme can be found here.

Cardiff University has also introduced a number of other initiatives to help students including the Activities Hardship Fund which is aimed at improving access to Sports, Societies and general social activities that may have been impacted by the Cost of Living Crisis. Beginning in January, the CSL will operate under extended opening hours to ensure students have a safe and warm place to study. Additionally, from the 5th-16th of December, £2 lunches are available in the Snack Shack in the Students’ Union.

More information about the Student’s Union’s support can be found here. Students at Cardiff Met are able to apply for emergency funding and financial support here. Information about food banks available in Cardiff can be found here.

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