Students’ tough week living off foodbank parcel

Foodbank parcel

Social Work students at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) lived off foodbank packages for a week to learn about food poverty and raise money for charity.

The first-year students and their families spent one week in November living off the equivalent of a foodbank parcel as typically provided by the Trussell Trust.

The students initiated the project themselves, inspired by an awareness campaign by the Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, and a module on their course studying poverty and social exclusion.

Not all students managed to complete the challenge, while some said it left them feeling “miserable” and “tired” due to the lack of fresh food.

The group inspired others to donate to their local foodbank, and also managed to raise more than £900, which will go towards the Trussell Trust, who alone have been providing on average 2,600 food packages per day for children across the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Student Abigail Davey said: “While many of us were nervous of taking on the challenge, we were very aware that in real life many people did not have the luxury of a choice.

“Within a few days many of us found our energy levels had dropped, the lack of fresh food was very noticeable and it was a challenge to make a meal from the ingredients. There were also difficulties for people with specific dietary requirements.

“Our children also noted they would not be able to have packed lunches for school with this food.

“The challenge brought to the forefront of our minds that despite the commendable efforts of foodbanks across the UK, more needs to be done to help people who find themselves relying on foodbanks through no fault of their own.”

Dr Joanna Fox, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at ARU, said: “Social justice and activism are at the centre of social work, and we are very proud of our students for taking on this challenge.”

A typical day’s meals for the students consisted of:

  • Breakfast: Porridge made with long-life milk
  • Lunch: Bowl of soup or spaghetti
  • Dinner: Bowl of rice with tinned peas and tinned salmon
  • Snack (one day in every two): Rice pudding or tinned fruit.




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Anglia Ruskin University (ARU)