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SDG 2 - Zero Hunger

University of Limerick Students’ Union Student Life has launched a new hardship support service for students experiencing extreme financial difficulties. The new service, which includes a textile and food bank, is also environmentally friendly, helping to reduce waste among students and staff. A student hardship fund already exists offering financial support to those most in need, however, those working at the frontline of the service identified the related issue of food poverty as an urgent concern not currently being addressed. “It came to our attention that quite often students leave it to the last minute to seek financial assistance without realising that the application can take a number of days to process. At that point, students can sometimes have absolutely nothing and indeed not have eaten. With the help of donations from our on-campus students and the financial aid committee, we decided to create a food pantry here in Student Life , with non-perishable foods to help students through this time,” explained Adele O’Carroll, head of facilities, supports and services with UL Student Life. In December, the accommodation office on behalf of UL Student Life, accepted donations of non-perishable food, clean bedclothes and blankets from students not returning for the second semester, including international students and UL students taking part in study-abroad and cooperative-education programmes.

“With these items, and others bought through the hardship fund, we have set up a food pantry as well as a bed-in-a-bag offering for any students needing to avail of the service. So far, we have had a positive response from students donating items as a means of helping other students who find themselves experiencing real hardship,” Adele said.

“We are currently accepting donations of sealed, non-perishable food items, clean towels and bedding and financial donations to the student hardship fund administered by the financial aid committee. Unfortunately, this is a very real and regular need for many students,” she continued.

This initiative comes just months after the UL Student Life introduced another environmentally and socially conscious campaign whereby it installed water filling stations in the Students’ Centre providing chilled, filtered water free of charge for use by the entire campus community, saving students the cost of purchasing bottles of water and reducing plastic bottle waste.

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The National Dairy Processing Technology Centre (DPTC) hosted by UL, was established in 2015 as a centre of excellence for dairy processing research and innovation.  Funded by Enterprise Ireland and the Dairy Industry Partners. The Centre will help to fuel growth in the Irish dairy sector by performing research focused on cost-efficient processing, facilitating a step-change in environmental sustainability, and creating, validating and commercializing a pipeline of science and technology-based manufacturing platforms for dairy ingredients. The foundation of the DPTC is a strong, long-term industry–academic collaborative partnership that will develop, build, and translate the knowledge and capabilities in dairy processing that are needed today and for the long-term growth development of the sector.

UL and the Institute of Food Science and Technology of Ireland (IFSTI) hosted the 48th Annual Food Science and Technology Conference on the 16th of December 2019. The focus of the conference was to assist the professional development of young food scientists by providing them with opportunities to present their research in the broader food science and technology area. The conference provided an exciting snapshot of the diversity and depth of food science and technology research ongoing in Ireland.

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The MSc Human Nutrition and Dietetics programme offered at University of Limerick (UL) is a Graduate Entry Masters of Science programme delivered over two years full-time. This innovative evidence-based interfaculty programme is an opportunity for honours graduates to pursue studies that will lead to them becoming competent nutritionists and dietitians working in a variety of settings. Broadly, graduates of the programme will build on a prior knowledge base of physiology and biochemistry and apply it to the role of food and nutrition in health and disease. Students will undertake modules in the School of Allied Health (Faculty of Education and Health Sciences) and in the Department of Biological Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering). Students will undertake shared modules with other healthcare disciplines in the School of Allied Health through an interprofessional education model, thereby being exposed from the outset to an integrated multidisciplinary team approach to healthcare. In addition to academic modules at UL, students on the MSc Human Nutrition and Dietetics programme will complete 1000 hours of clinical and community placement over two years which includes a summer study period. Clinical placement modules will take place in a range of settings (tertiary and secondary hospitals, primary care, public health, and food service establishments) and with patients of all ages.

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