Thousands of students benefit from UOW’s Food+ with Care Project
Staff-led food assistance program provides groceries to students experiencing financial hardship
A University of Wollongong initiative has helped more than 4000 students access fresh food, pantry items, and toiletries, in a time where many have lost their jobs or are experiencing financial hardship.
The Food+ with Care Project began in May with the aim of providing food assistance to students who had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
UOW staff began volunteering to put together pantry packs for international students, given the added complexities; the service is open to all UOW students.
While most students were studying off campus, it was also a way to maintain a connection between the University and its students.
The project has since become a weekly opportunity to provide students, both domestic and international, with groceries, including fresh fruit and vegetables and pantry items.
It is now a collaboration between UOW staff, UOW Pulse, students, and community partners, including IGA on Campus, Turbans 4 Australia, Shining Stars Outreach Service, International Christian Church, Shellharbour Community Church, and the Indian Australian Cultural Association Illawarra branch. Students are able to have their groceries replenished every week if needed, by collecting a food package from UOW’s Wollongong campus or delivered around Sydney.
Sarah Lisle, Lead Student Programs (International) at UOW, said the Food+ with Care Project has had such a positive impact in just a few months.
Since it began 22 weeks ago, pantry packs have been provided to more than 4000 students who have lost employment or are struggling to support themselves due to the pandemic.
Approximately 50 staff members and students have volunteered their time to pack grocery items and deliver the finished packages or have contributed financially by purchasing a pantry pack or donating to the COVID Student Hardship Fund.
“It is such a great example of people power in action,” Ms Lisle said. “No one organisation has the resources to be able to do this, but by pulling together and collaborating with community partners, we have been able to support our students through this incredibly tough time.
“The students are so grateful for our support. They love to see the faces of UOW staff members when they pick up their groceries. It has been so great for the staff members, too, to pitch in and provide that vital support for our students. It has been a really amazing project for everyone.
“The health and wellbeing of our students is the highest priority for all staff so it has it is wonderful to know we can help our vulnerable students as much as possible.”
Assistance is available to all UOW students via the Food+ with Care Project. For more information, to find out how to volunteer, or to contribute to a pantry pack, click here: https://www.uow.edu.au/student/support-services/food-assistance/