Grocery kits a practical boost as CQUni Melbourne's pandemic cohort approaches graduation

17 November 2021

It's been a tough two years for international students in Melbourne' but a passionate lecturer has delivered the latest initiative to keep the CQUniversity Melbourne community connected and supported.

CQUni Melbourne students can access 200 non-perishable grocery kits thanks to a donation from the Australia India Sports Council led by founder Karthik Arasu' with the impressive haul coordinated by Senior Lecturer Dr Ritesh Chugh. Each kit is worth nearly $40.

The kits are funded by a Victorian Government grant and have been stored on campus for flexible collection by students.

Dr Chugh' who himself came to Australia as an international student' said he was glad to be part of the project to support international students who form an important part of CQUniversity and the Australian community and economy at large.

"I am humbled to procure the kits for our Melbourne students' and it was exciting to be able to unload the huge delivery' knowing the difference the provisions would make to 200 young people who have had a really tough time over the past two years." Dr Chugh said.

Many of the cohort have studied through six lockdowns across 262 days in the Victorian capital' with classes predominantly delivered remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions.

But the resilient group will finally celebrate face to face next year' as the Melbourne campus confirmed its next graduation at Crown Melbourne on Tuesday' 1 February 2022.

Acting Associate Vice-President (Victoria Region) Will Alderton said the whole CQUni Melbourne community was looking forward to the celebration.

"So many students have shown huge persistence and commitment to their studies' and have worked so hard to complete their studies' and stay connected to their campus community'" Mr Alderton said.

"The whole team at CQUniversity Melbourne has gone above and beyond to support our students through the pandemic' in a huge range of creative and thoughtful ways.

"The grocery kits initiative is another incredible example of that support' and I thank Ritesh for his hard work."

Mr Arasu said he was glad that the culturally-appropriate kits would be put to good use.

"These healthy and shelf-stable groceries are one of the many ways that our communities are coming together to support international students in Victoria'" he said.

In April 2020' CQUniversity Melbourne partnered with social enterprises SecondBite and FareShare to establish a large food bank supporting international students.

Many of the large cohort had suddenly found themselves without jobs due to lockdown' often in financial distress and missing the care of family and friends from their home country.

Staff and other students put in numerous volunteer hours to support the food bank' and by August' and with the help of some large freezers loaned by Unilever' it had distributed more than 20 000 frozen meals and thousands of kilos of fresh produce and dry goods to students.

In October last year' staff and students also created a fundraising cookbook Recipes from Behind Closed Doors' which raised funds for international student relief.