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How are food and fuel shortages affecting students?

As the United Kingdom begins to reopen and recover from the pandemic, supply chain issues have become a problem across the nation. With these problems now expected to last until Christmas, more and more people are experiencing the effects of shortages.

The government explained that due to Brexit, the pandemic and other general economic conditions, there is a significant staff shortage within several industries, resulting in severe supply chain issues. 

The chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation stated that across the whole UK food supply chain, there were about half a million staff shortages, which is 12.5 per cent of the total workforce required. 

Reports in the news have covered Nando’s running out of chicken, BP not having enough petrol and Ikea having a backorder for furniture emphasised that the issue has impacted all commercial areas. 

For students at the University of Edinburgh, the shortage of food in supermarkets, largely as a result of a lack of HGV drivers, has impacted them the most. 

Speaking to The Student about the shortages, the consensus amongst students was that not one supermarket had everything they needed. 

In addition to this, when food was available, its shelf life was considerably shorter than in the past.

Ruth, a third-year Politics student commented:

“I used to be able to do one big food shop, but now because of the short expiry dates, I have to go multiple times a week.” 

Another student at the university, Morgan, highlighted how the more affordable items in supermarkets were frequently unavailable compared to similar expensive ones.

She said:

“I could either buy the more expensive one, and spend more money, or just not buy it and wait to see if the cheaper option was restocked later.”

The petrol shortages have mostly been resolved in Edinburgh, yet in other parts of England, the issue remains. 

For most students that The Student spoke to, this was not an issue they were significantly impacted by, as few have cars, and of the few who do, they do not drive frequently enough to have been affected by the shortages. 

Laura, a second-year History student at the University of Edinburgh told The Student:

“To be honest, I forgot that was still happening, I thought it would have been sorted by now.”

The majority of students that The Student spoke to were unaware of the rising gas costs. Some knew of the issue, either due to an email from their energy supplier informing them their prices were increasing or their parents discussing it with them over the phone. 

Although bills for students are set to become more expensive, the consensus amongst the students that The Student spoke to seems to be that the heating will just not be put on as much and that buying a few more blankets and a hot water bottle should suffice.

Image: Wikimedia Commons