Melbourne’s first International Student Pop-Up Grocery Store

By Our Reporter
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Photo by Imants Kaziļuns on Unsplash

Foodbank Victoria and UEM Sunrise deliver first of its kind “International Student Pop-Up Grocery Store”

Leading Malaysian property developer, UEM Sunrise Berhad (“UEM Sunrise”) and Foodbank Victoria have partnered to create Melbourne’s very first International Student Pop-Up Grocery Store. The store provides free fresh food and supplies to international students in Melbourne currently experiencing food insecurity due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Located at UEM Sunrise’s Aurora Melbourne Central development on LaTrobe Street in the Melbourne CBD, the pop-up store is currently helping almost 2,000 international students a week, from over 50 different countries and over 100 different learning institutions.

Many international students in Victoria are experiencing financial difficulty while completing their studies this year. The pandemic has limited their access to casual employment and travel back to home countries, and international students are not eligible for the Australian government’s various financial support measures instated during the pandemic.

CEO of Foodbank Victoria, Dave McNamara and Director of UEM Sunrise in Australia, Ong Chee Wei at the Aurora Melbourne Central Foodbank International Student Pop-Up Store. Image credit to Foodbank Victoria

Foodbank Victoria operates the pop-up grocery store three days a week, re-stocking it daily with fresh, culturally-diverse food supplies and ensuring a COVID-safe environment. The easy-to-access, central retail space at Aurora Melbourne Central is provided rent-free by UEM Sunrise, as part of an initiative to leverage available retail space for positive community impact during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dave McNamara, CEO of Foodbank Victoria said: “We’re very excited to provide a new concept in food relief—where dignity and choice play a powerful role in helping international students who’ve been the forgotten victims of this crisis. Its an incredible space, in the heart of our international student district, and we couldn’t be more grateful for UEM Sunrise and their generous support.”

“The pressures faced by international students in Australia continue to be challenging, particularly here in Melbourne, where many of the industries and companies they work for have been closed for the best part of the year”
— Fiona Henderson, Kaplan Business School

Ong Chee Wei, Director of UEM Sunrise in Australia said: “We’re proud to partner with Foodbank Victoria and support the important work they do by providing one of our fantastic retail spaces rent-free at Aurora Melbourne Central, for their very first International Student Pop-Up Grocery Store.

“It’s been a difficult year for many globally, and the UEM Sunrise team wanted give back by working with a non-profit organisation to use one of our retail spaces to create a positive community impact in Melbourne.

“The property industry has immense resources at its disposal and innovative partnerships, such as this, are instrumental in supporting the community in challenging times,” said Ms Ong.

The pop-up store initiative has received support from the City of Melbourne and tertiary educational institutions including the University of Melbourne, RMIT University and Kaplan Business School.

Many international students accessing the service have been referred by student welfare departments at these institutions, simply requiring their student iD and a shopping bag to enter the store.

Students Arum Kumar, Akar Gupta, Nitin Kumar and Shravan Kumar at the Aurora Melbourne Central Foodbank International Student Pop-Up Store. Image credit to Foodbank Victoria

Fiona Henderson, Melbourne Campus Manager of Kaplan Business School said: “The pressures faced by international students in Australia continue to be challenging, particularly here in Melbourne, where many of the industries and companies they work for have been closed for the best part of the year.

“Many students arrived in Australia just before the pandemic hit, making it near impossible to secure work. Our students are most appreciative of the work Foodbank are doing and have found this initiative to be invaluable in helping them stay on their feet during COVID-19,” said Ms Henderson.

Coles has also supported the delivery of the unique pop-up store by providing a ‘supermarket style’ fit-out free of charge. The fit-out gives the students a dignified and quality experience when collecting supplies.

The International Student Pop-Up Grocery Store will be operating at Aurora Melbourne Central until the end of December 2020.

The pop-up store is currently open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00am – 2:00pm. Further details can be found at www.foodbank.org.au/students.


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