University “very sorry” for inadequate food boxes given to isolating students

By

Jeremy Cook, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Durham University (Colleges and Student Experience), this morning apologised on behalf of the University for inadequate food boxes that isolating students have been given by their colleges, during an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Mr Cook’s interview followed the broadcast of a pre-recorded conversation with an unnamed first-year student at Durham, who has recently contracted the virus and is self-isolating within her catered college. The student described how in the past week she has gone to bed with hunger pains because she had not been given enough food.

“We’ve acted fast, we’ve listened to our students, and recognised their concerns.”

Mr Jeremy Cook

The student explained that she had received a food box that was supposed to last her 11 days. It contained no fruit and was instead filled with ready meals, crisps and pot noodles. She suggested that the lack of fresh food had made her more unwell, saying “I haven’t had vegetables in over a week”.

In addition to the suggestion that inadequate food had contributed to her ill health, the student commented that feeling hungry and exhausted had made it difficult to concentrate during online lectures and seminars.

After the conversation was recorded, the student contacted the Today programme to say that she had now had her first hot meal in six days.

“I’m quite shocked at how we are being treated.”

Self-isolating first year

In response, Jeremy Cook told the Today programme that “We’re really very sorry to those students who feel that they have not been given sufficient or healthy food.

“But we’ve acted fast, we’ve listened to our students, and recognised their concerns.”

Mr Cook said that since the concerns were raised, the University has acted and is now able to deliver hot meals to the isolating students, by hiring more staff and revising operations.

When asked why the interviewed student had waited six days for hot food, Mr Cook said that the majority of isolating students had waited between 24 and 48 hours for their first hot meal.

The catering plans were revised after livers-in at Collingwood and St Mary’s Colleges were yesterday advised not to leave University campus for a week, regardless of whether they are self-isolating. Each college has around 50 residents who have tested positive for the virus and are now self-isolating with the rest of their households.

In an email concerning the new measures for food, Mr Cook said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and the communities of which we are part has been our top priority throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and remains so. 

“We have worked tirelessly to achieve as safe and successful a start to the new academic year as possible, including introducing a wide range of measures to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading and developing a comprehensive Outbreak Response Plan, which sets out how we would work with partners to respond to different possible scenarios and which has been approved by Durham County Council’s Public Health Team and the Department for Education. 

“We are working very closely with partners including Durham County Council’s Public Health Team to ensure our planning is co-ordinated and we are in very regular contact with our students, staff and the local community to share the latest information and receive feedback. “

Other colleges are now following suit and providing hot meals for those in isolation. 

In an email sent out to students yesterday (Thursday), Pro-Vice Chancellor Claire O’Malley said: “plans are in place to ensure that students who are self-isolating in their College can access healthy and hot food.”

This follows several major announcements regarding the local strategy to reduce cases of Covid-19.

Yesterday, a new testing centre was opened in Territorial Lane car park in Durham City. It is located just off Old Elvet, on land belonging to the University. Appointments are available from 8am to 8pm, seven days per week. The centre is pedestrian access only and will feature “better accommodation and shelter for those being tested”, according to Durham County Council.  

Image of St Mary’s College, Durham:

12 thoughts on “University “very sorry” for inadequate food boxes given to isolating students

  • Indeed you have worked tirelessly to lure students to campus, with the false promises of f2f teaching.How much are you charging your students for halls Durham £8k ?

    Reply
    • My son is at Durham and food is so decreased every day. He had pictures all meals and its shame that we have to pay 8k for bed and 1 baked potato.

      Reply
  • What happens if a student gets seriously ill with Covid? Is anyone keeping checks on the students who have tested positive to ensure they are coping ok ? If they get a very high fever how does anyone know?

    Reply
    • My daughter is at St Aidan’s and has COVID. No thermometers provided to test their temperatures and in the week that she has been ill, NOT ONE member of staff has called in on the students to check to see if they are OK. One girl has not come out of her room for 3 days reportedly 🙁 No paracetamol, rehydration salts or any basics they might need. Seriously concerned. This feels like complete negligence on the part of Durham Uni’s part.

      Reply
  • The lack of care for students self isolating is shocking.
    As a previous comment stated, taking their money has always been the University’s first priority.
    Durham University got this badly wrong and a reply of “very sorry” is paltry.
    These young people, at university and away from home for the first time deserve and pay for better.

    Reply
  • Only 20 minutes exercise a day, its absolute disgrace, prisoners at Frankland jail nearby are treated better. Lecturers are strugglibg to deliver decent online lectures, dont show their faces. Someone needs to get a grip if this situation quickly, human rights and civil liberties are being abused!!

    Reply
  • My son is at Durham and the way he is being treated breaks my heart. The food boxes he was given were disgusting, nothing fresh and full of junk. One of the most expensive universities for catered halls, refunds need to be issued as they have failed their students. I am so angry at how my child is being treated.

    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree with you more. It has been heartbreaking to watch our daughter reduced to tears and declining mental health. No support from any department just a “sorry you feel like this” when they eventually reply. I am so angry. These are young people not robots.

      Reply
  • Someone must stop this money hungry institution that no longer believes in education but lures students in with false marketing in hope of profits. Durham university is no longer an institution of academia but a foul, money hungry business.

    Good lord, what has become of Durham!

    Reply
  • My daughter is at St Aidan’s and has COVID. No thermometers provided to test their temperatures and in the week that she has been ill, NOT ONE member of staff has called in on the students to check to see if they are OK. One girl has not come out of her room for 3 days reportedly 🙁 No paracetamol, rehydration salts or any basics they might need. Seriously concerned. This feels like complete negligence on the part of Durham Uni’s part.

    Reply
  • My child is so distressed and upset by her whole Durham experience and she is only in her 2nd week of learning. There has been a complete lack of help and support not only after she contracted Covid, but also with the chaos the Biology department appears to be in. How can you possibly complete your fist year with only 1 lab visit per term!! She has been told to “imagine” how you do an experiment!!! The course co-ordinator said “her experience embodied all she feared would happen to this year’s students”. The best advice she could give was to defer to next year! What kind of service is that. I just hope this experience hasn’t done too much damage to the mental health and well-being of a conscientious, dedicated student. It’s certainly Durham’s loss.

    Reply
  • That is good to you share information with us about food boxes.I love the designed boxes. I also have ordered my custom designed food boxes from PrintingShell and really love the quality they have provided me in such cheap prices.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.