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Students skipping meals over virus hardships, survey at 2 Japan univ. shows

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KOFU -- Almost half of students at two universities in the east Japan prefecture of Yamanashi's have cut their meals to two a day as the coronavirus pandemic makes it increasingly hard to make ends meet, a survey run by a food bank has found.

    The survey by Food Bank Yamanashi, certified nonprofit organization based in the prefectural city of Minami-Alps, asked students at the University of Yamanashi and Tsuru University about how the coronavirus has affected their lives. The results showed the pandemic had caused a drop in their part-time job earnings, forcing many to scrimp on food.

    Food Bank Yamanashi gave the questionnaire between October and November to a total of 110 students at the two institutions who have received food aid. In all, 79 responded.

    Of the respondents, 37 people -- 47% -- reported that they ate only two meals a day. Among them, 10 said they were "reducing daily meals to save money." Additionally, of the 41 people who said they were eating three meals a day, some 30% said they had cut the amount of food they are eating per meal.

    In other data, 52 people, 66% of respondents, said they were worried about the future because of the coronavirus crisis. Eight people said they had considered quitting school over coronavirus-related problems. Some students also wrote that they "don't have enough to cover living expenses," and that "the allowance I get (from home) is only enough to cover my rent and I have no money," among other comments.

    Food Bank Yamanashi director Keiko Yoneyama told the Mainichi Shimbun, "The situation is very serious. There's concern that there might be more students in straitened circumstances. We want to do all that we possibly can to continue supporting them."

    (Japanese original by Shota Kaneko, Kofu Bureau)

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