University feeds more than 600 students for free in first week of Ramadan

Hundreds of free meals have been handed out to students at one Lancashire university during the first week of Ramadan.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 4:08 pm
Volunteers preparing to hand out free Iftar meals at UCLan on Thursday (April 15).

UCLan students have been able to click and collect more than 600 free meals this week.

It was the first week of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which sees Muslims fasting during set times of the day.

Thanks to funding and support from UCLan, UCLan Students' Union and UCLan Islamic Society, students could click and collect a free 'Iftar' meal to break their fast.

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The meals were available for all students, regardless of their faith, and a UCLan Imam praised the ‘amazing support in providing free hot meals to UCLan students’.

UCLan Students’ Union President, Zuleikha Chikh, who campaigned for the university to help fund the Iftar meals, said: "Great things can happen when the University community comes together.

“The Students’ Union has been working hard with the University to find a solution to support the provision of Halal food options for UCLan students as part of the free food provision.

"We are delighted that a solution has been found with funding provided by the University, key support from Students’ Union Islamic Society and a number of student volunteers.

"At a time when many students are away from families and observing Ramadan, we wanted to do all we could with the University to build an inclusive community on campus."

On Tuesday alone, 300 students collected meals and last night (Thursday) 180 students were fed for free.

The click and collect slots were fully booked within hours and a further 180 students are set to collect Iftar meals this evening (Friday).

The meals are part of a wider free food offering for UCLan students.

In a recent ‘Student Hardship Survey’, UCLan SU found that 43% of students were concerned about being able to afford food.

Students can collect hot and cold drinks, sandwiches, soup, fruit, and a selection of hot meals from the Preston campus between 12 pm and 5 pm.

This offer continues into the evening when students can collect free food and drink between 5 pm and 9 pm.

On Monday (April 12) and Tuesday (April 13), the free meals and Iftar meals fed a combined total of 700 students.

A University spokesperson said: “In an initiative to welcome students back following the recent break, relieve the pressure of revision time, and to thank them for keeping each other safe this past year, the University has been offering free food and drink on campus since 12 April.

“As part of this offer, and as a way of continuing to meet the catering needs of our diverse student body, we have supported an approach from our Students’ Union to provide a halal food option during Ramadan from our Harrington Refectory."

Over the course of the month of Ramadan the SU says it hopes to provide a minimum of 3,000 free halal meals.

The University aims to provide a similar number, bringing the combined total to around 6,000 meals.

The University said it will consider providing halal food on campus beyond Ramadan.

More information about free food for students can be found on the Students' Union website.