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Emergency food parcels help students in time of need

David McBain and student Chinju Joby
CDU advancement officer David MacBain and student Chinju Joby help prepare some of the food parcels.

Charles Darwin University students and staff have provided more than 3600 emergency student food parcels during the past three months to assist students across the NT who have been experiencing financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CDU Emergency Student Food Parcel program was made possible through the generous support of the Charles Darwin University Foundation, Newmont Australia and Foodbank NT, with a group of international students coming together to say “thank you” for the support. 

CDU advancement officer David MacBain said the food program had taken a considerable amount of coordination. 

“We’ve had many staff and students who have volunteered to assist us with packing the food hampers … it was a mammoth task, and we were overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to help,” he said. 

“The students have been incredibly grateful for the support that they have received.”

The program ran for 14 weeks with 3644 parcels provided to domestic and international students.

Distribution centres based on CDU’s Casuarina and Palmerston campuses, as well as Foodbank NT’s warehouse in Berrimah ran every Friday, while additional larger parcels were freighted to Tennant Creek and Alice and Springs each fortnight.  

Mr MacBain said it was pleasing to see the program had made an immense impact on CDU’s student population. 

“When the pandemic first hit and everything went into lockdown, there were severe shortages of groceries at supermarkets,” he said. “The food parcels were a way for us to provide immediate assistance to our students and provide them with a sense of security.” 

Mr MacBain, who helped at the Casuarina distribution centre from week one, said he saw first-hand just how incredibly concerned our students were about what was going to happen. 

“Over the weeks this has changed and now when they come along, a lot of them have a smile on their face which is quite uplifting to see,” he said.

“It wasn’t just about providing the food parcels, but also taking the time to have a chat with them in person each week and see how they are going.”