As you read the words ‘food bank’, you may feel your stomach turn. As good as a ‘helping-hand’ sounds, pop culture may have led you to believe that a food bank is a place that you’d only go to if something in life has gone very, very wrong.
The fact of the matter is, a food bank can be a place of the exact opposite. A haven. A safe space. A sign that you’re taking action to get through your study in a budget-savvy, smart, and switched-on way. It’s certainly wiser than starving your way through a three-hour tutorial, after all.
In fact, the various food assistance organisations throughout Melbourne, and the greater Victorian region could help you make your loose change last further – providing you with more fuel to see you through your assignments, exams, and onto a brighter future.
If you ask us, that’s something to celebrate, not shy away from. Nodding your head in agreement? Read on, and prepare to bust those food bank myths.
Myth 1: “They’re for people in greater need than me”
It’s only human nature to feel we’re not worthy of help. To remind ourselves that there are people worse off in the universe than us. That we shouldn’t put our hands up for help when we’re in need. It’s in our bones.
While there may very well be others out there in greater need than you, it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the support that’s available. A common misconception is that food assistance is only for those who are living below minimum wage. However, for students, this could very well be you.
Let’s say due to your circumstances you have to live near campus, and you’re not working at the moment. You might be receiving around $445.80 from Centrelink’s Youth Allowance per fortnight. This amount is actually lower than minimum wage – meaning you are completely justified in seeking assistance from food aid organisations.
Myth 2: “They’re hard to access”
“Don’t you have to be on some kind of special list?” Not necessarily. A concession card is enough for many food assistance organisations to lend you a helping hand.
If you don’t have a concession card, that’s also not a problem. Do a quick search on Google, and you’ll notice that many outlets allow you to fill in a form to schedule an interview with their staff instead. These interviews allow their team to see how they can best meet your needs.
So whether you’re in a rough patch, between jobs, or need help for a longer period to help you see out your degree, you’ll be amazed at how happy and willing these organisations are to help.
Myth 3: “They’re unsafe”
Ever thought a trip to the food bank might be scary? Organisations such as FreedomCare are working to ensure your experience at their food bank is quite the opposite.
FreedomCare, located in Kilmore is set up just like a supermarket. Walk inside, and the first thing you’ll notice is that items are on shelves, and include price tickets (which are labelled with a suggested donation that you can make for taking the item).
If going to an unknown place still feels a little outside of your comfort zone, you’ve still got options. In fact, Swinburne University has its own food assistance program – designed to help people just like you. Beth Graham from Swinburne’s Housing & Financial Advice Service, encourages you to get in touch if you’re finding it hard to make ends meet.
“A Financial Adviser is available on each campus.” Beth says. “(They) can assist with Centrelink issues, budgeting advice, some loans and grants and a foodbank for those times that a student is caught short.”
Your nearest food banks
Life isn’t always peaches and cream. There are moments when you’ll feel like you’re flying, and others when you need a hand to make it through what’s ahead. And that’s OK.
Knowing you could do with a little extra support is not only important, but something to be proud of realising.
If you’ve read this article and feel like you could do with food assistance, look no further. Your local organisations are below, and would be more than happy to help:
Written by Sophie Asquith, in collaboration with Robyn Delbridge, Dietitian (AdvAPD) and Lecturer, Master of Dietetics, Swinburne. Special thanks to FreedomCare, Kilmore.