Free food hampers are being handed out to all international students in response to the ongoing Sydney lockdown.
The hampers were initially being distributed at UTS City Campus but are now available for delivery or pick up in an effort to reduce contact.
In collaboration with Study NSW and Foodbank NSW, the state government-funded initiative aims to assist international students who are without work and financial government support. The hampers have been distributed across the state.
Student Services Unit coordinator Alivia Nicolls organised the distribution of food hampers at UTS with the help of student volunteers. She said as international students are not eligible for any COVID-19 financial relief, this is the best alternative.
“Because the NSW Government isn’t providing any financial assistance this is the alternative way to support international students,” she said.
An international UTS law student, who volunteered to help hand out the hampers, said the initiative has been a success although it could be improved.
“I think it has positive outcomes, it’s very good to see the state government providing free food to international students, during the pandemic, a lot of people have lost their jobs and their families back home probably have also lost theirs.”
Many international students have been left unemployed and with the risk that if they go home, they will forfeit their visa or degree.
“They are all full of canned foods, mostly considered to be western foods, the fact is most international students are from Asia, so I think the food hampers could definitely include more Asian foods,” he said.
Each hamper weighs 10kg and contains a range of staple foods and snacks. So far UTS has distributed close to 1,000 hampers.
The NSW Government has also provided emergency housing to over 5,500 international students through the $20 million Temporary Crisis Accommodation Scheme that launched in June 2020.
UTS has also stepped in and is supporting its international students with cash grants and interest-free loans.
The program will continue over the next few weeks, subject to demand. Food hampers can be ordered online here.
Main image: Student volunteers ready to distribute food hampers at UTS City Campus. Photo: Alivia Nicolls