By Alexandra Roach
On a brisk day outside UNSW’S Main Library, herds of hungry students line up in the cold for free sausage “sangas” and reduced Krispy Kremes. But they’re not just being cheapskates.
Recent slashes to university funding have been a hard blow for student budgets and with university fees on the rise, students at UNSW are saving every cent they can.
Social media statistics from the student-led Facebook group, UNSW Free Food, show that there are over 17,000 students from UNSW seeking free food options.
“I already have so many other expenses, it’s just easier if I don’t have to worry about buying food every day,” said UNSW student Camilla Haldemann.
According to SRC Welfare Officer Amy Mills, food is just one of many costs students are trying to prioritise every day.
“We need to remember that students often sacrifice a lot to be able to study at university,” Ms Mills said.
“It is up to different student bodies to find creative and innovative ways to help relieve any pressures the students might feel because of this sacrifice.”
The UNSW Food for All Association (FFA) is just one of many student bodies offering free food to students on a regular basis.
“Students are a unique demographic of people who have little time for a job, yet still need to support themselves,” said Revina Wijaya, a FFA student representative.
“I think there is definitely an increased demand for free food amongst students,” Ms Wijaya said.
“A lot of students are skipping meals because they can’t afford food.”
Any leftover donations made to the Association go towards their partner charity at the end of the academic year.
The partner charity for 2017 is OzHarvest, which has recently opened an OzHarvest Market just a few doors down from UNSW on Anzac Parade.
The OzHarvest Market is the first rescued food supermarket in Australia, built on an ethos of ethical consumption and customer integrity.
“Everything you see here is donated and rescued, and it’s something we’re very proud of,” said NSW State Leader for OzHarvest, Alicia Kirwan.
The market is a positive response to an increased demand for free food among students in the Kingsford region, based on the philosophy of, “Take what you need and give if you can.”
UNSW students are being encouraged to volunteer at the OzHarvest Market.
“I actually want as many students as possible to be coming in here regularly and having it help to fill their cupboards, because that’s what I would do too,” said Ms Kirwan.
“If someone comes in here to help us minimise food waste by consuming items that would’ve otherwise gone to landfill, then it’s a good deal for them, it’s a good deal for the environment and it’s a good deal for the charity.”