An increasing demand for food and hygiene products for students has come to the fore at NUI Galway following national attention gathered from a food bank set up by University College Cork (UCC).
The food bank for vulnerable students was reopened with “great dismay” according to a tweet from UCC’s Student Union following its closure in 2019 and was completely emptied 50 minutes after opening.
The case, in a partnership with St Vincent de Paul Cork, has attracted national attention on the issue and has shed light on the growing issue of food security among student leaders, especially at NUI Galway.
NUI Galway Student’s Union President Róisín Nic Lochlainn has stated that demand for a similar service at NUI Galway has also been an issue for a long time and has described the current situation affecting the student population as “heart-breaking.”
Similar services have begun rolling out on campus such as a basket in the SU shop in which products are donated to the Hub and to NUI Galway students. A basket has also been set up in the SU building where anonymous donations are made for students to take what they need.
“The burden of not knowing where your next meal will come from can take a massive toll on any person’s well-being and is something that unfortunately many students experience,” stated NUI Galway Student’s Union Vice President and Welfare and Equality Officer Cora Clarke.
Clarke continued: “Typically students are away from home, managing their own budget, working every hour they can to be able to afford the basics and to know that there is a food bank readily available to them, so that they don’t have to go hungry will hopefully alleviate some of the panic and stress surrounding feeding themselves.
“The food bank would be available to all students, so even if you have an unexpected expense like car troubles, you don’t have to starve yourself to pay it. However, although it is a great thing to be able to help students and hopefully alleviate some of the financial pressure they are under, it is also a terrible thing to see so many people struggling to make ends meet.”
“To know that even SUSI and other financial aids are just not enough to keep students from struggling to the extent that food banks are necessary aspects of students’ unions all around the country,” finished Clarke.
NUI Galway’s St Vincent de Paul Society also expressed interest in helping the SU.
“SVP NUIG would be very happy to work with the SU on a food drive if asked,” stated Victoria Poppola, Auditor of NUI Galway’s St Vincent de Paul Society.
“Food poverty is definitely a problem within the student community and in Galway as a whole. It’s great to see NUI Galway’s Student Union taking up the indicative to tackle this issue in the form of a food bank.
“SVP’s goal in Ireland is to fight poverty in all forms, so here at SVP NUIG, we will fully support this initiative and will always be willing to help out in tackling this issue,” finished Poppola.