You may have seen the sign which reads: ‘Oasis Breakfast Club, Free Breakfast’ on your way through the Portland Building. In response to the cost-of-living crisis, the University has had to come up with a hands-on approach to support students – and the breakfast club is one of these initiatives. Impact’s Sophie Robinson spoke with Laura Henderson, UoN’s Multifaith Coordinator, about how the breakfast club came to be.
Laura tells me: “It was an initiative started in collaboration with Student and Campus Life, the Students’ Union and the Chaplaincy” to alleviate the burden of food insecurity which has been exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. Many students have told the breakfast club that they’re cutting back on food and usually not eating breakfast – which Laura asserts is the “most important meal of the day”.
At first, those groups involved in setting up the breakfast club were unsure whether it was something that students would want or need, so they trialled it to begin with. Since November when the initiative started, they have served almost 1300 breakfasts to students, highlighting the positive impact that it has had so far.
Laura’s role as the organiser of the breakfast club involves ensuring there are enough volunteers per day, introducing new volunteers as well as helping out during the breakfast hours when she can. The food provided is funded through the Student and Campus Life budget and is sourced through the SU, usually ordered in by Spar. There is a combination of free bread, cereal, fruit, tea, and even Pop-Tarts.
In terms of the impact that the breakfast club has had on students, Laura says that some students come back repeatedly for breakfasts because “a lot of them feel that it’s created a nice community”. From speaking with students, she says that some of them have found the social aspect of the breakfast club helpful because they are isolated in their accommodation, or haven’t made as many friends at university as they would’ve liked to.
The free food has also been well-received by students, with some sitting around the tables to eat together, and others grabbing fruit or a cereal bar on their way to lectures. Laura also says that the breakfast club has had a positive impact on the chaplaincy too, as she told me: “more people have become aware of our service and that we are there for students and staff of any faith, or no faith”.
Laura thinks this initiative will continue on campus beyond the cost-of-living crisis: “We’re seeing between 20-30 students turn up every morning. Given that it isn’t just the food, it’s also the social aspect that people are coming for, I hope it will remain even if things ease in terms of the cost of living crisis”.
Featured image courtesy of Korng Sok via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.
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