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"Virtually Everone is Struggling": The Campus Larder

In October 2023, the Campus Larder was founded in response to the cost-of-living crisis to provide students and staff with essential food items. When asked about the function of the larder, President of the Students’ Association, Barry Will, said, “The students who visit us come from a diverse range of backgrounds, and there’s no stigma or shame attached to any of it. Virtually everyone is struggling right now! The amount of times I’ve gone up to visit the Larder to see one of our volunteers dancing with music on should show you just how comfortable and easy a space it is to access.”

On its impact, Will added, “I think it’s fair to say we’ve had a massive impact on the lives of our students and staff who have visited the larder. We are giving free food and essential items during a time when people need it most, and we’re providing a service that is absolutely necessary in these times. Access to food is a human right, and whilst it’s unacceptable that far too many in our community are struggling to feed themselves during the cost-of-living crisis, I’m proud that we’ve been able to step up and take care of those who need it.”

Will added that the positive impact of the larder goes beyond the items themselves: “We’ve shown what’s possible when you give a little back, when you can, and shown what a small donation can do to someone who needs it.”

Barry affirmed that the need for donations has risen as the cost of living crisis continues. He said, “There’s a wicked misconception about St Andrews that we are all a bunch of super-wealthy students who don’t need to worry about the price of food, but the opposite could not be truer.” 

According to Will, over 50 per cent of Scottish students admitted to the University of St Andrews come from disadvantaged backgrounds. “When you’re from a low-income family paying £800 a month in rent and facing 40 per cent increases in your weekly shop, you don’t get the luxury of living under the St Andrews illusion of endless wealth.”

The larder receives support from student groups such as C.A.S.H and the Socialist Society, which run food donation drives to collect items. In addition, the larder has secured another round of University funding due to the growing demand. These efforts are happening alongside those made by individuals who drop things off during the week, to whom Will said, “I can’t express how much your support is needed and valued! It’s only natural that as food prices get more expensive, the demand for the larder increases too, and it’s thanks to the continued generosity of our community we’ve been able to keep the larder going.”

Will added, “I’d probably struggle to express how much the larder is already helping students. I am the volunteer for some of the sessions, and some who have visited have told me about how the larder has changed their life. What is cool about the service is it’s here for everyone, and so we see all sorts of students come through the door. There’s some who just have a few days before payday and need to pick up some milk and cereal because they’ve run out of money. There’s others who need a bigger shop. It doesn’t matter where you’re at — if you need us, we’re here for you!”

In terms of the Association’s future plans, Will said, “I’m currently in the process of securing funding to set up a breakfast club in the Union, where students can start their day with free food and coffee. All of these projects are about supporting our students when they need us. That’s what a strong union is about – it’s in the name! We’re a collective and we’re strongest when we join forces to uplift one another during hard times.”

Any student or member of staff is free to use the larder provided they book a slot; the larder works on an open policy, trusting users to take what they need.

Illustration by Aimee Robbins

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