UEA is charging self-isolating students £12 per day for meals actually around £5

Students have now set up a Facebook group offering to do shopping for free

UEA’s resident food hall, Campus Kitchen, is charging first year students £168 for food during their two week self-isolation period. Originally costing £252 for the same service, the university did a U-turn and lowered the price yesterday after significant online backlash.

When you go on the website, it explains the service includes three meals a day with cereal, fruit and pastries for lunch, a choice between sandwiches and salads for lunch and for dinner a meal in a labelled container which must be prepared and reheated in students’ own accommodation kitchens. It’s undoubtedly a necessary service but students have been left frustrated by the high price.

Taken from the UEA Store website, where the two weeks’ worth of catering can be ordered

We added the products provided to an ASDA online shop, taking into account portion sizes and the likelihood that UEA would be buying in bulk. Our shop came to a total of around £5, excluding delivery.

In response to the expensive service, two third-year students decided to offer their own assistance to fellow students on campus. Naomi Hicks, 23, and Sam Docherty, 20, wrote a post in a large UEA Facebook group offering to shop for students using their own cars, free of charge.

Naomi wrote: “Hey self-isolating freshers that do not have £252, Sam Docherty and I are willing to do shopping for you for free. We both have cars and nothing to do so feel free to give us a DM. All social distancing measures will be in place of course. I know there’s a lot of other people that have said they’re also keen to help out so maybe we can get a load of us doing it for you.”

Sam went on to make a public Facebook group called ‘UEA student needs for self-isolating teens’, which has accumulated 233 members, some being freshers, others alumni and students living off-campus who want to lend a hand.

We reached out to Naomi about the group. She told The Norwich Tab: “This definitely was not an original idea, there were posts about it, but Sam and I were just talking and thought we could offer our services too. We did not expect it to blow up the way it did – with the constant message requests and comments we thought it would be best to just make a group, then people can join and more easily make arrangements.

“We were really keen because we both know how scary Freshers’ Week can be. You’re told you’ll be safe and looked after, then in the first couple of weeks you’re put into isolation and told you can only survive if you have a certain amount of money. I’m not a finance expert but what Sam and I have found in four hours is that over 150 people volunteered for free, because they are genuinely so worried about their fellow students.”

A UEA spokesperson said: “Students are being given assistance to self-isolate and we will continue to review our support to those students, and that includes the cost of the on-campus food delivery service.

“From today we have changed the charge to £12 a day for the delivery of three meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner, which equates to £84 a week or £168 for a fortnight. Meals are provided, with free delivery, direct to the student household, rather than the block and the typical menu would include breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“Breakfast includes cereal, morning pastry, fruit salad, yoghurt and fruit juice; Lunch choice of salads or sandwiches, crisps, home-baked cake, fresh fruit, bottled drinks and Dinner – a choice of two main courses in labelled containers to be prepared and reheated in student kitchens, dessert, fresh fruit, soft drinks.

“In addition to the emergency meal delivery package Student Services, are able to offer students priority supermarket delivery slots which they can select themselves, and this is alongside commercial online food delivery services for self-isolating students and the campus shop which is offering food deliveries free of charge.

“The food delivery option from on-campus catering services is one choice for students who are in self-catered flats and we will continue to review the package we offer. We will be refunding the students who have already paid.”


Related stories: