USC students doing it tough during the global pandemic now have access to free, ready-made, nutritious meals at each USC campus to help them focus on their studies.
The University has made the meals available to both international and domestic students at six campuses from Fraser Coast to Brisbane – in partnership with Study Sunshine Coast, Study Brisbane, Urban Angels Community Kitchen, and Foodbank Australia’s FareShare program.
The nutritious meals include roast pork and vegetables, fried rice, large curries and spaghetti Bolognese and cater for all dietary requirements including vegan and gluten-free.
USC Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) Professor Denise Wood AM said many international students were struggling to make ends meet, either unable to return home or access financial support due to restrictions during the global pandemic.
“International students don’t qualify for any welfare in Australia and many have lost their jobs in the crisis but can’t get back home to their support networks,” she said. “So this is a way we can support all students further as they gain their qualifications.
“They are able to visit their local campus, fill their bags with high-quality, nourishing meals and take them home, knowing that the service will continue at least until their exams in June.
“It takes away the stress of wondering where the next meal is going to come from.”
Business and business psychology student Mona Bluemke from Germany said she was grateful to be able to take home several vegetarian and gluten-free meals at a time, as she completes her final year of study at USC on exchange from Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg.
“It’s very lovely and I feel supported by the university and the student guild. I do get some support from my parents back home, too, but it’s still hard to find the right food in the supermarkets with dietary restrictions these days, as much is sold out,” she said.
“Many of my fellow international students have gone home because they have lost their jobs or do not have the financial help from their parents. I am lucky that I can still be here, but it’s challenging.”
This new delivery of ready-made meals for international students is being arranged by two organisations – Brisbane Marketing’s Study Brisbane and Study Sunshine Coast – and cooked by FareShare using fresh ingredients donated by Woolworths and Foodbank Queensland.
Distribution and funding at USC has been organised by USC Student Wellbeing, the USC Student Guild and the USC Student Senate, and has been paid for by the senate and the Vice-Chancellor’s emergency fund.
Study Sunshine Coast Program Manager Tracey Coobula said there had been an enormous amount of support for the free meal program, which was helping students from more than 160 countries.
“We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of these food service providers who have upscaled so quickly to include our international student community here,” she said.
“Students have been so heartened to know that the community wants to help them so they can continue to reach their education goals in Australia.”
Professor Wood said USC had been able to extend the free meals to domestic students through their existing relationship with Urban Angels Community Kitchen and OZHarvest. This is a separate partnership through which USC has been providing an increasing number of meals and fresh produce to international students for nearly eight weeks.
“This will make a huge difference to students, particularly single parents who know they have a nutritious meal they can just warm up and not have to put too much effort into, meaning they can continue to focus on their studies,” she said.
Students wanting meals can collect them from the USC Student Guild Welfare and Advocacy Office (near carparks 4 and 5) between 10am and midday Monday to Friday and must present their student IDs. Vegan and gluten-free options are available.
Last week, USC also provided more than 1,360 of its students with emergency bursaries of up to $1,000 each to offset some of the difficulties they’ve faced during the coronavirus lockdown, totalling almost $1.1 million.