Study Melbourne Ambassador Darren Lee visited the very first Foodbank International Student Pop-Up Store in Melbourne and shares his story here.

Words by Darren Lee

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way international students live and study here in Melbourne. When the pandemic struck, many of the students had lost their jobs and were unable to access JobKeeper or JobSeeker. Flights back home were scarce and they were dependant on their personal savings or turned to charities just to get by.

This caught the attention of CEO of Foodbank Australia, Dave McNamara who wanted to empower the international student community in a culturally inclusive manner. “We want to let international students know that we care, and that we are here for them in times of need,” Dave said. Consequently, Dave and his team initiated the Foodbank International Student Pop-Up Store, in collaboration with property developer UEM Sunrise and Coles and generously supported by the Victorian Government through Study Melbourne.

Foodbank International Student Pop-Up Store

Study Melbourne Ambassador Darren Lee with Foodbank Australia CEO Dave McNamara.

The Foodbank Pop-Up Store, which is located in the heart of Melbourne CBD has been a game changer for international students. Two friends from Nepal had lost their financial support from their families due to the pandemic but were beyond elated when they first heard about free groceries through their local diaspora Facebook group. They now visit the store on a fortnightly basis and enjoy selecting their own groceries, which provides them the option to cook for themselves.

Open until at least the end of March 2021, the shop is fully stocked with a culturally appropriate diverse range of food such as fresh vegetables, canned food and other staple items such as rice, pasta, bread, milk, and yoghurt, similar to other groceries stores.

Upon arrival, international students are required to show their student card to one of the friendly staff at the door and check-in by scanning a QR code. Once verified, you are free to start shopping! Oh, and remember to bring your own shopping bag.

The pop-up store is located at Aurora Melbourne Central, 230 La Trobe Street, Melbourne between 10am to 2pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday (excluding public holidays).

Join Study Melbourne’s Facebook group to receive regular updates on international student support.