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As a student-led organisation, here at the TUSA we understand how hard it can be to access affordable, nutritious and tasty food for you and your flatmates, partner or family while you are studying.

The impact of Covid-19 on employment, particularly on casual and part-time employees, has meant that many students are struggling financially, and don’t often have the money to spend on groceries.

Emergency food relief

If you are unable to access food, there are a range of wonderful support organisations who can assist you either with grocery items, or meals.

We have a comprehensive list of community support organisations who can help with food and other support to meet your needs if you are struggling.

For students based in Hobart and Launceston, TUSA provides an emergency food pantry as well as access to free hygiene supplies. These are usually available in the student lounge spaces and are free for any UTAS student to access. For distance students and anyone needing additional support, make an appointment with a Student Advocate to discuss what further support might be available.

Financial support for groceries

Some organisations provide grocery vouchers or emergency funding as part of their community support. You can find them here.

UTAS is currently offering financial support through the Financial Hardship Scheme. To make an application click here.

Tips for eating well on a tight budget

1. Cook for yourself

If you have cooking facilities available to you, it is almost always cheaper (and often healthier) to cook for yourself. YouTube is a great resource for learning how to cook if you don’t know how to do it, and you can start basic and work your way up when you get better skills and more cooking equipment. Learning from others can be really useful and it has the added bonus of building relationships, whether it is talking more to your family as you cook, getting to know a flatmate, or perhaps giving romance an opportunity to bloom!

Checkout TUSA’s Freshie Bag scheme for weekly access to cheap and seasonal fruit and veggies.

2. Buy at the right time

Get to know which fruits and vegetables are in season in Tasmania and base your meals around them because they are often cheaper when they are in season. And if it doesn’t grow here it might be best to skip that ingredient because the cost of getting it here probably adds to its price. Your local supermarket will often have times where they mark down perishable items like meat and bread. Get to know when that time is, and plan a shop around it. This works particularly well if you have a freezer and can buy things cheaply and save them safely for later in the week.
See something on special? If you use it a lot, then try to get as many as you can afford (whilst still keeping money for your other purchases). If there is something you use frequently, try waiting until it is on special – there is usually a cycle and it won’t take too long for it to get marked down again. Sometimes you can get 10kg bags of rice for half price! Sign up to mailing lists from supermarkets and grocers near you so you know what is on special each week.

3. Create a mini-co-op

Cooking for one or two people can be an expensive way to do it. Food is often cheaper in larger amounts, and you may find yourself wasting a lot if it is just you or you and one other person. Think about whether there is a group of people in your home, your building, your street or somewhere else like your class, club or church who you might consider bulk buying with. This can mean that you can pool your money to get the good deals, but you aren’t left with huge amounts of something you can’t use. Always make sure you have clear arrangements and communication to minimise conflict though.

4. Cook in bulk and freeze

If you are able to cook and have access to a freezer, it can help to make food in bulk and freeze it. Soups and spaghetti sauce are always great ones to freeze. You can save money and time.  You can use clean plastic takeaway containers to freeze in too, so if you do buy takeaway make sure to save them.

5. Bulk out meals

If you really need to cut down on cost, it makes sense to bulk out your meals with the cheapest ingredients, right? They may not be the healthiest options, but they are better than going without food. Some good options are rolled oats, rice, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, potatoes, noodles and pasta.

6. Minimise the meat

We aren’t here to tell you to become vegetarian, but meat is expensive! One way to save money is to cut down on meat in your diet. This might mean eating a few vegetarian meals each day or week, or it might mean slicing up one steak in a veggie stir fry between a few people, rather than having a whole steak and veggies on the side each. Eating a plant based diet can definitely be less expensive if you are buying your fruit and vegetables in season.

7. Grow your own

Some things are easy to grow and expensive to buy! So it’s an easy choice to give it a go.
Even if you have minimal space, like a kitchen bench or even a windowsill, you can grow bang-for-your-buck items like fresh herbs and leafy greens. Don’t know how? Just jump on Google – there is heaps of information out there. Facebook and Instagram are also excellent places to learn how to grow, join groups, or share your own growing journey!

Food Security Q&A

Do I need to be part of a religious or cultural group to access support?

Most places welcome all. Some services are targeting particular groups such as international students. You can find out more by contacting the specific service for details.

Do I have to give my name or provide evidence that I have lost my job?

Most places providing immediate food relief do not need to know your name, but some support organisations will need to know who you are so they can help you properly. Some service providers may require evidence of hardship.

Do I need to provide my Student ID?

Some places may ask for your Student ID, if they do you can ask if they are recording information or just checking whether you are a student.

Are there any other organisations in my area that might not be on this list?

Yes! This list is not comprehensive, as new organisations are putting their hands up to help all the time. Google your area, use the ASK IZZY app, keep an eye on the news and check back here for updates.

These people are helping me, how can I give back?

There may not be a way for you to volunteer at the moment, but after the virus restrictions lift these organisations are still out in our community helping people, so keep them in mind for future volunteering or donations.

There are also other valuable ways you can help by reaching out to people for conversations, contact people you know and find out how they are going, or organise to do an activity together on the phone.

Remember if you’re struggling, there are people here to help you. You can always reach out to the TUSA’s advocacy service or the UTAS personal counselling service. Both provide free and confidential advice and support.

Always keep up to date with the latest government regulations and information

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