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Average British student spends more on alcohol than food

February 2013

Slow Food UK and Grana Padano survey reveals how poorly most students eat

Just how well does the average University student eat?  According to a survey undertaken by Slow Food UK, in association with Grana Padano, students are concocting some truly dreadful food combinations when they’re strapped for cash, and most students spend more on drink each week than they do on food.

When questioned about the worst meal these students have ever put together for themselves, their parents would probably be horrified.  When  monthly budgets are used up, students are resorting to pasta with vinegar and garlic cloves; cake for supper; baked beans on hula hoops; pasta with a mushy pea ‘jus’, or a supernoodles omelette.

However, those students who joined Slow Food on Campus, an educational and social programme which is organised by student groups at 25 universities in the UK, were far more aware of the quality and healthiness of the food they eat.

The survey amongst average students has revealed:

  • The student average weekly  expenditure on alcohol is £20 or more, whilst around £10 is spent on food
  • The main priority when buying food is price rather than quality, and most students (75%) didn’t pay attention to where the food they buy comes from particularly when buying from supermarkets – which most of them said they did more often than not
  • Students also admitted that they don’t have very much variety in their diets, and that although many of those questioned (65%) said that they scratch cooked more regularly than they bought ready meals, the lack of time, good cooking equipment and utensils in student accommodation restricted their creativity in the kitchen
  • Whilst most of the students surveyed say they eat one portion of fresh fruit or vegetables most days (74%), they are definitely not getting  anywhere near their five a day and eat meat or poultry once a week each
  • Most students in the survey (80%) said they spent between 30 minutes and one hour a day cooking for themselves
  • The amount of take- away food consumed was less than anticipated, with most students (68%) saying they ate take-away just once a week or less
  • The most difficult time for students to eat well is when their money is running low, but students also said that during exams and approaching deadlines, food was seen as fuel rather than something to take time over and enjoy
  • A very high proportion (78%) of students were familiar with Grana Padano cheese and its versatility, and nearly 65% of Slow Food on Campus members said they had used the nutritious,  low calorie cheese in meals such as pasta and risotto whilst at University


According to Cat Gazzoli, CEO of Slow Food UK says that whilst students who are involved with Slow Food on Campus in the UK have the same budget issues and lack of access to the best, freshest foods, their healthier eating habits were far more impressive.

“Two-thirds of our Slow Food on Campus students eat fast food no more than once a month; 77% spent two hours or more on their meal each evening, and most significantly, 75% spent at least twice as much on food as they did on drink.

“We know that Slow Food on Campus is helping to change attitudes to food at this crucial life stage.  Our student groups embrace a fun way to stay healthy, and alter the way they and other young people think about the quality of the ingredients they buy, cooking and eating.  As part of our programme we show them how to make dishes with wholesome and nutritious ingredients on a budget, where a little goes a long way, such as using Grana Padano cheese in their recipes.

“Through on- campus barbeques, farmers markets, film screenings, debates, talks, and the growth and development of ‘Slow Food on Campus’ gardens, members become part of a global network spreading the Slow Food ethos, ‘good, clean, fair’ food.”


Cesare Baldrighi, President of the Consortium of Grana Padano Cheese, supports this initiative. “Grana Padano and Slow Food believe in the same things – authentic ingredients, traceable products, honouring tradition and most of all a passion for quality, delicious, wholesome food, which is why we are working together. Our goal is for students to learn about these same values and to develop a greater appreciation for food at such an important age when they are developing lifelong habits.”

– ends –

For further information and to arrange interviews with Cat Gazzoli please contact Shelley Sofier or Erica Sutton-Teague at Red Kite PR

t: 0207 566 6730



Details on how to join, and information on how to start a group is all available on the Slow Food on Campus website,

The Facebook page can be found at!/Slow.Food.UK.


Slow Food on Campus Sponsor


Grana Padano, Italy’s favourite and the world’s best-selling PDO cheese, is proud to support Slow Food on Campus, an initiative of not-for-profit organisation, Slow Food UK. Grana Padano and the Slow Food movement have a long standing partnership, sharing many key values, including the promotion of premium quality artisan food. This year, Slow Food UK and Grana Padano will be helping educate and inspire the UK student community to shop, cook and eat in a more healthy and sustainable way.




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