A food bank that was set up by University College Cork Students' Union (UCCSU) has run out of food after just 50 minutes, the union's president has said.
Asha Woodhouse said that some students had to be turned away from the food bank as they struggle to meet high rents and bills amid the accommodation crisis.
Ms Woodhouse said that it was “heartbreaking to not have enough and to see so many students experiencing food insecurity”.
50 minutes in we’ve run out of food and have had to turn students away. Heartbreaking to not have enough and to see so many students experiencing food insecurity. Is this the @UCC and country we are supposed to be proud of? @SimonHarrisTD https://t.co/dpGdOrZCnm— Asha Woodhouse (@UCCSUPresident) October 6, 2021
The foodbank was in operation at UCC after the students' union contacted Caitríona Twomey from Cork Penny Dinners for assistance.
Students can access non-perishable items like pasta, rice, and other basic food items in UCC's Common Room between 5pm and 7pm on Wednesday every week.
In a tweet that tagging Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar and Simon Harris, UCCSU's welfare officer Caoimhe Walsh asked "when are things going to change?" adding that action was needed now.
She added that more than 100 students attended the food bank.
Heartbreaking. pic.twitter.com/Lx4uPXwsbB— Alannah O’Connor (@UCCSUWelfare) October 6, 2021
Such was the demand for the service, Ms Walsh said students had been arriving earlier throughout the day to access the foodbank.
Ms Walsh said students from all years in the university, both international and Irish, are approaching the union about using the service.
"We're really upset and all that we have had to do it but it's great that we can as well," she said.
She said the union has not operated a food bank since 2019 and plan to keep it open for the rest of the year such are the challenges cash-strapped UCC students face.
In less that an hour the @UCCSU food bank has had over 100 students come and we have ran out of food TWICE. It is a very sad day for the country. @LeoVaradkar @MichealMartinTD @SimonHarrisTD when are things going to change? We need action NOW pic.twitter.com/4pfMXXS1gf— Alannah O’Connor (@UCCSUWelfare) October 6, 2021
"I don't see it getting any better to be honest," she said and highlighted the expected rise in energy bills this forthcoming winter.
"It's serious, I can't believe the amount of people who have come to me," she said.
The food bank is also making hygiene products available to students in need.
Cork Penny Dinners made the first donation to begin the food bank and donations have followed from students, businesses as well as UCC staff.
Accommodation costs including rent and utility bills are the main contributing factors causing student hardship, said Ms Walsh.
Students throughout the country struggled to secure suitable accommodation at the start of this term as universities welcomed people back to campus.
Many resorted to couch surfing and prolonged stays in hostels and hotels in their accommodation hunt in Cork.
Similar student housing crises have developed in Waterford and Limerick where anti-social behaviour is being blamed on a lack of student accommodation supply.