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SRC x USU FoodHub reopens in boost for student welfare

Based in the International Student Lounge, Foodhub will provide essential food and toiletries for both domestic and international students.

Photo of FoodHub in March 2021 by Khanh Tran.

The SRC Foodhub will be returning for Semester 2 2022 in what has been dubbed a “promising” initiative to combat food poverty and student welfare amid Australia’s cost of living crisis. 

The program was put into a hiatus last semester following administrative mishaps between the University of Sydney Union (USU) and the SRC.  

Foodhub will commence operations next week in a soft launch and an official opening party in Week Three. 

Located in Level Four of the Wentworth Building’s International Student Lounge (ISL), the revamped Foodhub will operate on a demand-driven basis, resembling a pantry. This was made possible after refurbishment of the space by the USU. 

The program will take place on Tuesday and Thursday between 10 am until 2 pm every week during the semester. The space will be staffed by SRC volunteers during opening hours. 

Foodhub will submit orders for bulk deliveries of essential foods and basic toiletries, which students can collect from the ISL. This marks a substantial departure from its predecessor, where pre-set hampers were distributed. Where a product is not available, the SRC is able to request the item when a sufficient number of students also express interest.

Another key difference is that the new Foodhub is accessible to all students, meaning that both international and domestic students can access food support from the program. 

According to SRC President Lauren Lancaster, the choice of a demand-driven was due to feedback from students that 2021’s International Student Hampers lacked diversity and did not cater to a wide range of dietary preferences. 

“This is particularly promising because we found the previous system of packages meant that some students received food they couldn’t or didn’t want to eat,” Lancaster said.

“It was devoid of diverse cultural staples like different noodles, cooking sauces, spices and rice-based products. We aim to fill that gap in response to student demand. This means they will be able to choose the foods they need most and find what works best for them, leading to less food wastage and a more personalised provision of essentials.” 

Concurring with Lancaster, SRC Vice Presidents Emily Storey and Mikaela Pappou told Honi that the program was vital in easing Sydney’s cost of living crisis on the student body. 

“With the cost of living on the rise we know how important programmes, like Food Hub, are in ensuring that all students at the university are able to access essential basics,” they said. 

According to analysis by Nick Evershed and Lara Sonnenschein, rising inflation reaching 6.1 per cent has pushed the price of essential items such as fruits and vegetables up by some 5.8 per cent.  

“We’re really excited to be able to launch the SRC Foodhub programme after a semester of planning alongside the USU. We are incredibly proud to continue the strong tradition of mutual aid service provision on behalf of the SRC,” said Storey and Pappou. 

Students who wish to volunteer for the SRC FoodHub program can register their interest here