Students are protesting against the high food prices in their cafeteria, which they say are adding to student poverty.

The student union at Middlesex University has launched a "food revolution" to campaign for lower prices, and more variety, in their bar and canteen.

The student union handed out free sandwiches at lunchtime today and yesterday, to encourage students not to use the canteen.

They hope this boycott will force the caterers to think again about the prices they charge.

Union president, Manoj Iyer, 30, claims that the external company which provides their catering compares its prices to those at Marks and Spencer, not to other student outlets.

He says that the canteen charges 99p for a can of Coke, while many other shops charge 60p.

Mr Iyer, who is in his second year as president, also argues that the canteen charges up to £7 for a meal of chicken and chips with salad and a drink.

This, he argues, is unaffordable for most students.

The president said: “Most students cannot afford to eat on campus. I have even heard some of the staff say that they cannot afford it.

“Students are already being hit hard by the increase in fees and this will just add to their poverty.

“They just cannot afford the prices that the canteen is charging.”

As a result, the union has launched a petition calling for prices to be reduced and has so far received more than 400 signatures.

It is also encouraging students to boycott the canteen by bringing their own lunches.

Mahdi Abuka, 20, a television production student, said: “The prices are really high in the canteen. We are students, so we don’t have that much money to spend.

“I go and buy food elsewhere, because it is too expensive on campus.

“I only buy food here when I have to.”

Pro Vice-Chancellor Warren Forsyth, from Middlesex University's estates and facilities management service, said: "We meet with the Students Union regularly and acted on recent feedback by introducing a greater choice of offers and a new lower price range of sandwiches starting at £1.

“This was implemented immediately after calls for cheaper options.

"We're aware that the cost of food is important to students, so regularly compare prices at our campus bars and catering facilities with other London universities and similar local establishments to ensure prices are competitive and fair.

"Student satisfaction is a core priority and we continue to keep the dialogue open with our students, including acting on feedback from a university-wide survey into our catering, which launched in March and comes to a close at the end of April."