Student leaders pleaded for immediate government support after their food bank ran out of supplies in less than 50 minutes following unprecedented demand from starving students.
Just days after the Cabinet meeting at University College Cork (UCC), students lined up for food as the UCC Students’ Union (UCCSU) reopened its food bank on campus for the first time since 2019.
At that time, it hosted around thirty students per day. He backed more than 100 on Wednesday, and many more were turned down when supplies ran out.
UCC Student Union President Asha Woodhouse said it was “heartbreaking not to have enough and to see so many food insecure students.”
Student union social worker Caoimhe Walsh said she thought opening a food bank for two hours would be enough.
“But it’s a lot worse than we thought,” she said.
50 minutes later we ran out of food and had to turn away students. Heartbreaking not to have enough and to see so many food insecure students. Is this the @UCC and the country we’re supposed to be proud of? @SimonHarrisTD https://t.co/dpGdOrZCnm
– Asha Woodhouse (@UCCSUPresident) October 6, 2021
“Now we need to determine if we can do it more often, maybe even daily, but we will need support.
“The Cabinet was here on Monday. And that’s great, but maybe they could come back and meet us and hear about some of the real issues facing students today.
She said skyrocketing accommodation costs, including rent and utility bills, have left little or nothing for food and many students are hungry.
The food bank opened thanks to donations from Cork Penny Dinners, some students, local businesses and UCC staff.
Caitriona Twomey, of Cork Penny Dinners, said politicians need to do more to help.
“I tried to find different or better ways of saying the same thing over and over again – trying to find ways to get politicians to sit down and take note,” she said. .
“But I think the only thing I can really say is ‘please help.’ They have the power. And it’s their job to help.
She said she expects people to dismiss this as a problem after images appeared on social media last week of college students partying on the streets of Cork City.
But she said those who turned to food banks for help weren’t the partying students.
“We need to make people understand that we are in a college town where some students are hungry. We will do our best to feed them, ”she said.
– Caoimhe Walsh (@UCCSUWelfare) October 6, 2021
A UCC spokesperson said he was keenly aware of the challenges his students were facing and was working together to support them.
“UCC deploys over 50 student support services, in the areas of health and wellness, accommodation and student life, and access,” he said.
“Student finance services include a dedicated student assistants fund, a laptop loan program, structured payment options, a scholarship for economically disadvantaged students from communities significantly under-represented in higher education, and financial advice from a dedicated student budget advisor.
“UCC will continue to work with its student union to protect the well-being of our students. ”
Sinn Féin education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said the situation at UCC is a vivid example of the difficulties faced by many students across the country trying to get a higher education.
“Students are under great financial pressure,” he said.
“A decade of underfunding higher education has placed increasing costs on students and commercialized many aspects of higher education and university life.
He urged Minister Simon Harris to consider increasing the student aid fund, expanding SUSI grants to more families and increasing the maintenance grant to reflect the cost of living.