Int’l Australian Students Are Suffering Food Insufficiency Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Australia Oceania COVID-19 by Erudera News Mar 17, 2021

university of melbourne

Australian students are facing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left numerous international students suffering, research conducted in Queensland shows.

According to Erudera.com, the high number of international students in the country, expensive food choices on the university campus, and the stigma around the phenomenon are to blame for Australian students’ current situation.

In a joint article published by The Conversation, a silent approach towards this issue also affects the whole food insecurity situation.

“In the early 2010s, one in four students (25 percent) suffered from food insecurity. More recent studies suggest the proportion could be over 40 percent,” the research reveals.

Concerned with the issue, the University of Melbourne (unimelb) has completed qualitative-based research conducted by four students, who have experienced food insufficiency, as well as their 40 respondents. This interview-research has revealed that the food uncertainty problem is predominant, especially among international students.

Despite “starving students’ jokes,” which indicate shame, students stated that they miss eating fruits or noting one can’t live “on instant noodles for three years,” as The Conversation article reads. 

Students have confessed that they have skipped meals, chosen a vegetarian diet by “necessity, not choice,” or lost weight after starting studies at the university while trying to adjust to circumstances.

Although COVID-19 only worsened most students’ situation, few of those benefited because of food relief measures or utilized vouchers from Queen Victoria Market. A few students also expressed their gratitude for university free cooked meals.

Not having sufficient food can cause many disadvantages among students.

“Our research pointed to close relationships between food insecurity and physical and/or mental ill-health, poor performance in studies, and difficulties navigating social relationships on campus,” unimelb stated.

In addition, the university praised students’ active approach and agility on securing food while seeking events that provided food, campus barbeques, and the fact that students reflected on food policies. 

“The sense of care and responsibility that students felt for each other was clear. Especially evident was a sense of obligation among domestic students to help international students,” the university adds.

Universities in North America face the same problem, which they are intending to address by providing assistance such as food pantries.

The approach has been criticized since it surfaces two disadvantages: risking stigmatizing students and not providing fresh food and its nutritional values. Following this effort, some programs are trying to lessen food insecurity among students.

“Students have also been active. They have, for example, helped develop food co-operatives, free breakfasts, food banks, and initiatives such as the student-run Fair Food Challenge aimed at improving campus food systems,” the articles read.

Erudera.com has previously reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused 101,628 students to postpone their enrollment. In addition to this, studies reveal that 83 percent decrease in Indian students attending Australian universities.

By July 2021, the country can experience a significant loss in international students, around 300,000 in total. Since the pandemic, Australia was forced to cut over 17,000 jobs.

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