International student relief as CQUni creates free on-campus food banks

Published:14 May 2020

The food bank at CQUniversity Melbourne, supported by social enterprises SecondBite and FareShare.

More than half a million international students in Australia are doing it tough amidst COVID-19 restrictions, with many cut off from employment, on-campus communities, and their traditional support networks.

But CQUniversity is offering practical assistance, teaming up with with social enterprises to put free food on the table for thousands of hard-hit students.

Since Wednesday 29 April, CQUniversity Melbourne has been home to a well-stocked food bank, in partnership with food rescue charity SecondBite.

The twice-weekly initiative allows students to stock up on frozen meals prepared from fresh by FareShare, delivered to campus along with fresh food by SecondBite.

Students can also collect dry food including rice, daal, flour and spices purchased in bulk by CQUniversity Melbourne. Melbourne students can register to participate here.

SecondBite is also providing frozen meals at CQUni Brisbane, with students able to collect up to seven meals at the campus. To coordinate a collection time, they can call Brisbane campus on 07 3295 1188 or email

CQUni Sydney staff are coordinating a weekly collection sessions, also in partnership with SecondBite. Sydney international and domestic students can register by emailing Student Services Administration Officer Annette Kalczynska at

In Rockhampton, CQUni's Capricornia College is inviting international students to access free meals throughout Term 1, thanks to financial support from the Student Representative Council.

And CQUniversity Perth is offering food vouchers to help international students get through the tough time.

While all CQUniversity classes were transitioned online from the start of Term 1, on Monday 23 March, all campuses have remained open with social distancing protocols, to ensure students could access resources and support.

Associate Vice-Chancellor (Victoria Region) Lara Carton said SecondBite was a long-term CQUniversity partner, with staff and students regularly volunteering with with the social enterprise in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.

CQUniversity’s food bank project is the first time SecondBite had provided meals for international students, and nearly 500 had signed up for the food relief in the first fortnight in Melbourne alone.

“As well as hiring freezers and coordinating staff to run the food banks, CQUniversity has also been providing care packages for students in isolation since lockdowns began,” Ms Carton explained.

CQUni support has also included laptops and internet dongles in cases where students couldn’t access technology to support their studies. Fee payment plans and flexible study plans have also helped support international students.

SecondBite CEO Jim Mullan said CQUniversity was the first institution to provide this program to its students, among numerous organisations seeking food relief support from the social enterprise.

“International students have shown themselves to be motivated self-starters – they’ve been contributors to our communities, and they need our help now,” he said.

“It’s a natural fit for SecondBite to support these kids, and help ensure they get a fair go.”

CQUniversity's partnerships with social enterprise are part of its role as Australia’s only Changemaker University, accredited by global social innovation network Ashoka U.

Some images from CQUniversity food relief across our campuses: