University unions are having to step in to help students cope with the rising costs of food, according to the National Union of Students (NUS). Free breakfasts, community kitchens, food pantries and vouchers are among measures introduced in some cities, with others looking at expanding help.
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The NUS says that one in three monthly survives on £50 or less.
The English and Welsh governments said they had increased funds to aid hard-up students.
BBC Newsbeat went to Swansea University, where the student union has been trialling weekly free breakfasts, including tea, coffee, toast and cereal.
Ruby Williams, 20, who is in her second year studying social policy, said she sometimes went without food because she could not afford it.
“There have been times when I haven’t had enough money for food, so I’ve skipped meals,” she said.
“I think it’s getting worse. The cost of living is rising, but our loans aren’t keeping up with that.”
Ms Williams said the free breakfast was “brilliant” and she would use it again.
“It’s so helpful,” she said. “Especially at this time of year when money is a bit tighter.”
The NUS calls on the government to increase maintenance grants and introduce more affordable housing for students.
“Students are struggling to make ends meet and turning to food banks in their thousands as a result,” said NUS vice-president Sorana Vieru.
“This is a national scandal.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We have provided an extra £151 million this year so that no full-time student from a household earning less than £25,000 faces tuition fees up-front.
“Students can also apply for support with their living costs, up to £11,000 a year.”
In Wales, the Welsh Government said it was “committed to supporting our students”.
“That’s why we have provided an extra £36 million this year to help with living costs,” a spokesperson said.
“We have also increased the amount of money available through our hardship fund by £1 million.”
The NUS is conducting a national tour of universities to speak to students about the cost of living. It will also hold a lobby of parliament on 4 November.
What do you think of the cost of living as a student? Let us know in the comments.
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