UCC Student’s Union has set up a food bank for students in need.
Naoise Crowley, Students’ Union Welfare Officer, says financial hardship affects many students and this is a concrete solution to provide help.
“We want to do our best to tackle this crisis by taking practical steps to support our students struggling with the cost of attending college,” he says.
“UCC SU Food Bank allows us to respond directly and in a tangible manner to one of the most common areas students come to us for assistance.”
He hopes the initiative will improve student wellbeing: “By ensuring the basic needs of students are met we hope this will have a positive knock-on effect on the mental health of students we support through this initiative.”
Naoise points out that SUSI grant has not increased for years, and says this coupled with the increase in rent leaves students struggling to afford basic necessities like food.
“Student poverty and financial hardship is a massively underestimated issue in Irish universities, with approximately 36% of students in Ireland experiencing ‘severe financial problems’,” Naoise says.
“It is largely underestimated as there is a considerable stigma surrounding financial hardship which prevents people from speaking about it, and in some cases, seeking help.
“The cost of living is increasing rapidly at present, with rents in Cork increasing by 7.1% last year. However, grant amounts and thresholds have not changed since the austerity budgets of the coalition government following the recession.
“In essence, support options have not moved in line with this increased cost of attending university. This is creating a very difficult environment for students and is effectively freezing people out of education.”