The Wentworth Building’s FoodHub, a joint initiative between the University of Sydney Union (USU) and the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), has introduced a registration process and waiting list for students seeking free food and essential items.
Students must now register 48 hours ahead of time via booking service Humanitix, bringing their digital or printed ticket with them, and can “only visit at [their] allocated time”. The @usueats Instagram account cited the reason for this initiative as “ensur(ing) the safety of our volunteers and students”. If a student’s preferred time slot is full, they can join a waitlist to use the service.
The introduction of a registration process follows last month’s reduction of FoodHub’s hours to 11am to 2pm, which, as USU President Naz Sharifi then told Honi, served “to ensure that any staff member on the floor is not inundated with a significant spike in numbers without the resources to aid in the proper restock and management of foot traffic.”
In a statement provided to Honi on the registration process, Sharifi said that “the USU is extremely pleased to see the continued increase in the number of students on campus and using FoodHub. We appreciate that the rising cost of living continues to impart significant challenges on the life of students and hope to continue offering services that are accessible and build a sense of community.
“We also recognise that to do so effectively and for as many students as possible it is imperative that we have in place the correct logistical frameworks. To ensure that this increased demand does not impact the quality and consistency of experience, the new process is being used to help facilitate the smooth running of FoodHub.
“These measures will allow us to ensure that our essential items are re-stocked for everyone who attends FoodHub by spreading the attendance out across the day. We want to re-iterate that the registration process will be made as easy as possible and will be a method of improving and increasing these services, rather than restricting them.
“We are also committed to working to improve the system to address any concerns students may have about the process and to ensure that all feel comfortable accessing FoodHub.”
The SRC’s Vice Presidents, Daniel Bowron and Rose Donnelly, told Honi that they “have taken lead from UNSW who uses a similar ticketing system and has reported better results.”
“Over the year we have since seen the demand for FoodHub grow exponentially due to the cost of living crisis. We have been working alongside the USU to ensure FoodHub is reaching the students who need it most.
“We want FoodHub to be as straightforward as possible and encourage the University to allocate funding for a second paid worker at FoodHub, to ensure the new coordinator does not have to rely on volunteers.
“The ticketing system helps combat the organisational issues that increased demand presents, but it does not address the labour issue — that the initiative requires more than one paid worker because of how many students are in need of an operational FoodHub.”