Last month ANUSA launched a pilot program for food rescue named the BKSS Lunch Express. The program aims to “bring a range of quality meal options to students free of charge every weekday for lunch.”

Hosted at the Brian Kenyon Student Space (BKSS), students can collect meals weekdays at 1pm and find them labelled with any necessary dietary requirement information.. This program is in partnership with Chartwells, the catering company that provides the food for most of the residential halls on campus. The service was initiated by Chartwells, who’d approached ANUSA with the suggestion for a food waste mitigation program.

The meals from this program are wholly sourced from Chartwells. According to the ANUSA Vice President Charlotte Carnes (she/they), this means “the food is all packaged and donated by Chartwells at no cost to [ANUSA].” As such, the BKSS Lunch Express does not divert any funding from ANUSA’s other programs. Charlotte also said the opportunity for the program arose from the fact that “There was so much food going to waste from the reshall kitchens that it was a no brainer for Residential Experience Division.”

Carnes told Woroni that unlike the University’s Food Pantry, this program is accessible to all students and that “there is no burden on students to prove themselves or their circumstances.” They continue that, “There is no criteria that needs to be met, no need to demonstrate any food insecurity, no questions asked.” Instead, the program operates on a first come first serve basis wherein students can line up on the day to collect a meal. 

According to The Brian Kenyon Facebook page, in a post from April 8th, the BKSS Lunch Express proved to be an instant success amongst students as meals “ran out very quickly”. At the third Student representative Council Meeting, Carnes said, “the demand unsurprisingly doubles the supply”. 

The response to the program clearly speaks to student demand for the initiative. It is worth noting that food services were deemed as one of the top five priorities for students in the 2023 SSAF Survey Report

Carnes told Woroni that she “hope[s]… that the BKSS Lunch Express becomes a permanent part of the BKSS”. They said,  “We are currently in a trial period that will last for a month until the beginning of May and we will consider any improvements that need to be made there.” There will be updates on the longevity of the program to come. 

Food insecurity continues to be an ongoing problem at Australian universities, with recent research finding that almost 40 percent of Australian university students may be going without adequate food. The problem is worse amongst international students. 

ANUSA’s 2023 End of Year report found that there are increasing demands for welfare services, including the free breakfasts at the BKSS, lunch and grocery vouchers. The BKSS Lunch express continues to be a successful initiative, however questions remain whether it can substitute the Community Connect food pantry and whether the program will effectively satisfy the overflowing demand. 

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