From January 2021, students at West Lothian College will be offered a free hot breakfast to ensure they don’t have to start their day hungry.

Shortly after taking up her job as principal of the college in 2018, Jackie Galbraith introduced a free bowl of soup and a roll at lunchtime so that no student went without food for the whole college day. Lecturers, support staff and the Student Association had told her that some students were passing out in classes through hunger because they couldn’t afford lunch.

To avoid the stigma that sometimes comes with free meals, the new hot breakfast and existing soup offer are available to all students, although those who can afford to sometimes choose to buy other meals.

Jackie Galbraith said: “These are challenging times for our students. Many have lost part-time jobs due to the pandemic, some have partners who have been made redundant, and others are struggling to pay their rent and heating bills.

“I want to remove as many barriers to learning as I can, so that our students can focus their energy on achieving their qualification during what is the most challenging time they have ever had to face. We continue to provide financial aid through our bursary scheme to students most in need, and I am confident that our free hot breakfast will be welcomed by students taking part in classes and workshops on campus in the new year.”

The college’s Student Association and support staff are working with local organisations to support students experiencing difficulties. For example, they have linked up with The Larder (Catalyst Kitchen) who are providing hot meals to students and their families affected by poor mental health, poverty or Covid19, Ladywell Baptist church community kitchen and West Lothian Financial Inclusion Network.

Jeannette Dobson, Student President added: “I am delighted that West Lothian College is offering all students a free warm breakfast as well as soup and a roll for lunch when they are on campus.

“The Student Association is also helping students facing additional pressures over the festive period. With help from River Kids and WLFIN (West Lothian Financial Inclusion Network) we are supporting students with children so that no child goes without a present, and with West Lothian School Bank we’re helping students with school clothes for their children. 

“I would like to thank all the local organisations we are working with for the generosity, kindness and compassion they have shown our students in these difficult times.”