International students supporting each other through specialised COVID-19 meals program

08 June 2020

Perth’s international students have come together to support one another during COVID-19 through a new food support program for those in need.

StudyPerth has partnered with WA Food Ambassador Don Hancey and Chef Sophie Budd to create the International Student Meals Program, an initiative to provide meals to international students who have been affected by COVID-19.

COVID-19 has created challenges for us all, but international students find themselves in a particularly vulnerable situation. There were over 50,000 international students enrolled in Western Australia at the end of last year and as at end of May over 28,000 were still studying here onshore. Many of these students have worked casually and paid tax, but have lost work and/or are now unable to find work and are often without solid support networks and family in the country.

This program will see international student chefs prepare 250 healthy meals weekly at The Kitchens in Balcatta under the expert guidance of Mr Hancey and Ms Budd, which will be delivered to four pick-up points ready for student collection. The pick-up points are located in the CBD, Joondalup and Bentley, to allow easy access for students across the entire metropolitan area.  Recipes are included with the meals to encourage students to enhance their own skills in the kitchen.

Produce used in the program is 100 per cent Western Australian grown and sourced, ensuring StudyPerth and its program partners support local producers and businesses. The program also seeks support from suppliers and other organisations in order to increase the number of meals that can be made and to protect the longevity of the program.

"Western Australia has always had a fantastic connection between education, tourism and hospitality. This program doesn’t just support students but also showcases Perth as a first choice destination for studying Commercial Cookery," StudyPerth Senior Manager Angela Beechey said.

“If we value and support our international students when they are most in need, we can ensure that the international education sector in WA remains strong and can drive prosperity and jobs growth, as restrictions are lifted and the global economy begins to recover.

“International students have an important contribution to make in the hospitality sector: a recent StudyPerth survey suggests that most students are not looking for a handout, but seek assistance in finding paid employment. This program will be integral to getting the student chefs back working in our restaurant kitchens.”

The International Student Meals program is StudyPerth’s second support platform for international students affected by COVID-19, with the StudyPerth Crisis Relief program assisting international students who are in immediate, emergency need of food or shelter.

StudyPerth thanks the International Student Meals program partners: Don Hancey, Sophie Budd, The Kitchens, SpaceCubed, ECU Business Innovation Centre and Canning College.


Quotes attributed to Don Hancey, WA Food Ambassador:

“Having had over 40 years hands on experience in Western Australia’s Hospitality and Tourism Industry I  knew the hardships our International Students were - and still are - facing during these unprecedented times.

“When I was approached with this program I jumped onboard straight away.

“I look at this program like a great recipe. You need the right ingredients, along with the right volume of ingredients, added and stirred at the right time.

We have all those ingredients, StudyPerth, international students in need, international volunteer student chefs, The Kitchens Balcatta, 100 per cent WA produce and mentors, like top WA Chef Sophie Budd  and myself… added, stirred, prepared and served with passion and pride.”

Quotes attributed to Sophie Budd, Chef:

“When Don asked me to be a part of this project I was an instant yes. Not only do I love working alongside Don, I love cooking with groups with a purpose in mind.

“The students I had cook with me today were awesome! We made a total of 1000 packaged meals, using the best WA produce to make 250 bags to be picked up by students all over Perth.

“An initiative likes this fills my heart, students, volunteering their time to make food for other students, like Don says, it's the perfect recipe!

“I'm excited to cook weekly and provide Perth's international students with nourishing meals”


EDITOR'S NOTE (31/12/2020): Applications for StudyPerth Crisis Relief (SPCR) have now closed. Should circumstances change due to COVID-19, the program may be re-opened in 2021. 

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In collaboration with governments, educational institutions and stakeholders, StudyPerth provides a leadership role in building the profile of international education in WA and overseas.