As a part of its wide and varied mission, the University of Madeira Students’ Union (AAUMa) is committed to participate in defining and executing social action programs and contributing to the improvement of educational conditions. Aware of the alarming economic situation in the region and country that result in difficulties for students and their families, it created the Food Grant in close cooperation with the Social Action Services of UMa (SASUMa).
In the academic year 1999/2000, 42.23% of University of Madeira's (UMa) students were beneficiaries of social support. In 2012/2013, about 30% of the students enrolled in UMa were applicants for the grant. This means that out of the approximately 3,000 students enrolled at UMa in 2012/2013, nearly 950 were grant holders. In 1999/2000 there were 2,309 students enrolled and 975 were grant holders. Thus, difficulties increased but social support diminished.
The aid provided to students in need has been steadily decreasing, and the significant advances in the education of graduates that have been achieved during the last decade may be compromised by the lack of adequate support within the context of the heavy economic crisis that we are currently experiencing.
Thus, after the implementation of the simple meal in May 2012 and the simple snack in December of the same year, the AAUMa decided to expand the Food Grant one step further. This further step consists of offering free lunch vouchers to students for a full semester—a benefit that entitles them to nearly 200 euros in biannual savings.