A new service run by Foodbank Australia is assisting international students in the country who have been financially affected by COVID-19 pandemic, by providing them with free food.
Many students, who among others, did not receive any government support either, have pushed the Foodbank Australia to establish the first free store for students in October, which has also received the support of Victorian authorities.
Only in its first days of launch, nearly 2000 students showed up at the free supermarket, 400 only on November 9, Erudera College News reports.
“We will be running the pop-up shop Monday, Wednesday, Friday (excluding grand final public holiday). 10 am to 2 pm, 230 La Trobe St. Simply bring your student id and a bag, and we’ll take care of the rest,” a post on Foodbank Victoria Facebook page reads.
The free supermarket will remain open in Melbourne until the end of December.
Between 2017 and 2018, international students contributed with an amount of $32 billion to the Australian economy. Following this, the University of Melbourne student union president, Hannah Buchan, said that students had not been treated how they deserve.
“The university sector especially relies on the money that international students bring into the sector, so it’s really unfair they’re being treated like that,” she said.
According to her, students do not feel like they have received a good quality education this year as a consequence of pandemic, compared to the money they had to pay for it.
Whereas, the Foodbank chief executive Dave McNamara expressed happiness that they are bringing a new concept in food relief, where dignity and choice have a key role in assisting international students whom he called “the forgotten victims of the crisis.”
According to the Australian government data, in September 2019, there were 880,380 international enrollments in the country.
Due to COVID-19, more than 100,000 international students were stuck in Melbourne after border restrictions were imposed as a measure to prevent the virus spread, the Australian daily newspaper The Age has reported.
Foodbank Australia works on fighting hunger across Australia and serves more than 2,400 charities in every state and territory so they can offer food to 815,000 people per month.
According to Foodbank Australia, 39 per cent of its food stores have experienced an increase in the number of international students in need since the Corona pandemic outbreak.
Earlier, the Australian Parliamentary Committee presented a report on an inquiry for working holidaymakers through which it recommended the Australian government to implement a program which could make a living and immigration procedures easier for international students.
The“Gap Year at Home” program recommends international students to work in fruit farms during the non-teaching periods and provide them with compensation for accommodation and transport costs.