The time is 8:50am and you’re just about to head into the dreaded 9am lecture that you have pulled yourself out of slumber for. When the scent of fresh coffee beans and pastries catches your attention. What else could be more fitting at this hour? But as you smile thinking about that fresh buttery croissant in your hands, the dream is cut short by the constant reminder that you and your flat mates are all chipping in for dinner tonight and garlic bread is on you. With a wave of students walking out of classes, reality hits and just like that: the dream is over. You shut the lecture door behind you and take a seat.
In fact, you are not alone, your fellow peers are probably feeling the same stresses you do financially when it comes to the issue of food costs and diversity in college. I conducted a small survey across 1st and 2nd year students in the arts and science blocks on campus. 20 students were asked several questions regarding their thoughts on the current food services in UCD. When asked if they regularly buy food on campus 60% told me yes, leaving the remainder of 40% bringing packed lunches. When asked if they would like to see more diversity and improvements to the system over 90% told me they would like to see changes made to the current food facilities on campus. Not one student told me they were currently satisfied with the current accommodations.
Here’s some students’ thoughts regarding the issue: “I buy food on campus and most of the time personally I get by, but I think it really depends on the student and the circumstances they are in,” Cadhla Doyle in 1st year tells me. “The snacks can get boring and breakfast foods should be cheaper and more accessible to students in the morning when they are running to class.” She also speaks about the difficulties of accessing snacks that give you high energy and keep you fuller for longer.
One student told me that she can spend over ten euro a day of her work earnings on breakfast and snacks alone. As young people facing increasing rent costs and a lack of mental health services, it would be nice if food and beverage costs would be one less thing to worry about. It seems that food on campus is almost more unaffordable to students than that of food off campus. Something needs to change.
1st year student John Moloney discussed with me his complete avoidance in buying food on campus because of the prices. “I think they should start to introduce meal deals, like the ones that lets say Tesco or boots do for example.” His frustration at the lack of affordable meals and snacks is evident and he is one if many students who have completely abandoned buying food on campus, instead opting to bring a packed lunch. The option should be realistically available for students to do either, but for some this is not an option. Lukas Bubendorfer tells me he hopes to see more vegetarian and vegan friendly options readily available to students within the next few months, as this can be a real issue for students looking for meat free options within their diet between classes.
Food costs should not be an issue for young people in UCD. Not one student I interviewed felt the current system met their needs. We as students, want change and we must be the voice in place to meet our demands. So, the next time you crave that morning coffee and are on a budget, know you are not alone.
Isabelle Keenan – Opinion Writer