New student clubs and societies start every year, but few have had such a quick impact as ‘Student Bites’ has on the ANU student community.
The popular student organization set up earlier this year has a very simple mission: identify supermarkets with excess food that is set to be thrown away, get the food, and give it to hungry students for free.
Every Monday from 12.30pm, the Student Bites team turns up in Union Court with loads of vegetables, fruit, bread and other non-perishable food items. The food is handed out to students at no charge, although students are welcome to give a donation that goes to Communities@work, a Canberra-based not-for-profit that supports the vulnerable and people in need in the community.
Communities@work have partnered with Student Bites by providing transport (Yellow Vans) to collect food from supermarkets and deliver it to the relevant sites for distribution. In the past few months over 4.5 tons of food has been distributed to students.
One recipient of food from Student Bites, Andrea Boyce, says “This is a really awesome project. These guys are rescuing food from being wasted and giving it to people who need it. I’m SO grateful as I can’t afford to eat properly on my current income.”
PARSA Vice President George Carter says the initiative is something to be proud of, “It’s good to see postgrads giving back to the ANU community in this way and it’s a really selfless thing for these guys to do.”
Student Bites was conceived by CBE students Faraz Junaidi, Kirk Fonseca, and Hersh Oberoi as part of their MBA course at ANU, which focused on developing a business plan. The three students do not benefit in any way financially from the organization they have set up, and Mr Junaidi says that it was always meant to be a project to learn from, “When we saw the potential of this idea, we decided to put it into action. It promotes a philanthropic culture among students and it encourages the sharing of resources rather than wasting them.”
Both Junaidi and Fonseca worked part-time in a major supermarket and observed how much food was being thrown away. “We realised that we could pitch to the supermarket headquarters that they could save landfill costs by donating the food. It’s a win-win situation.”
Student Bites works in partnership with big supermarket chains in Australia, the Yellow Van and the ANU. It is estimated that over 750 students have benefited from this project so far and the team are now planning in, conjunction with AIME (the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience), to take a major delivery of groceries to support an Indigenous community in Redfern, Sydney later this month.
The founders of Student Bites have been nominated for the ANU ‘Student of the Year’ Award.