YUSU Cost of Living 'Fruit and Root' Bags


Nadia Sayed overviews YUSU's 'Fruit and Root' scheme

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By Nadia Sayed

AS THE COST OF LIVING crisis persists, YUSU has been handing out ‘Fruit and Root’ bags to help cushion the effects of rising food prices for students at the University of York.Students’ Union President Pierrick Roger told Nouse“The Fruit and Root bags are food parcels thatYUSU have prepared and that students were able to claim for free this term.

The bags contained fresh fruit, vegetables, pasta and a carton of orange juice.”Students were encouraged to book a slot ahead of collecting a ‘Fruit and Root’ bag, which could be done using the online booking system on YUSU’s website. Slots were available every Tuesday and Thursday from two to four pm in weeks five, six and seven of the academic term. There were a total of 600 bags, with 200 available to collect each week from The Lounge on Campus West.

Pierrick stated, “All 600 of our bags were pre-booked by 477 students. All bags were either collected by the reserving student or given out on a first-come-first-served basis at the Courtyard if they weren’t.” When prompted with the question, “What inspired the project?” Pierrick replied, “This project came about because we know that students over the common assessment period tend to stop eating well. Cost of living pressures also mean that students are likely to be eating less than they need– and you can’t study if you can’t eat! We hoped that this project at least provided some relief to those that needed it, so that they can be healthy throughout this time and make it through this tough exams season.”

Moreover, YUSU’s website describes the scheme as “designed to provide access to free, healthy foods to students during their common assessment period.” To ensure the scheme could “help as many as possible,” individuals were limited to one bag per week. As Pierrick highlighted, “Cost of living pressures” continue to affect university students across the nation and its effects are especially rife during exam seasons.

The Russell Group Students’ Union’s website states that “In January 2023, Russell Group Students’ Unions commissioned research into the experience of students during the cost of living crisis.” This research involved surveying students from 14 academic institutions (including the University of York) and was open from Monday 9 January to Monday 20 February 2023.

The report, which was “produced on behalf of Russell Group Students’ Unions by Students’ Union UCL’s Policy and Research department” concluded that “The impact of the cost of living crisis on students is systemic and widespread. 94 percent of students are concerned about the cost of living crisis, and 94 percent have also seen their cost of living increase in the last 12 months.”

The University’s Community and Wellbeing Officer Hannah Nimmo, along with Amy Creighton, who holds the role of Democracy and Campaigns Development Coordinator, published a report focusing on what students at the University of York had to say in The Russell Group Students’ Union report.

According to this report, “On average, the University of York students are left with under £50 a month after basic expenses.” Additionally, the report found that “47 students (31 percent of respondents) regularly go without food or necessities because they cannot afford them.”

Hence, YUSU are hopeful that schemes like the Fruit and Root bags “will make a difference to those in need.” However, YUSU have also acknowledged that “in the grand scheme of things, this [the Fruit and Root bag scheme] will only support a small number of students.” For more information on the available cost of living support, students can visit the Cost of Living Hub on the University’s website. Alternatively, resources are available on YUSU’s website.