Hot meals and a friendly sausage dog bring comfort to struggling students

It’s 4.30pm on a Saturday. Hundreds of students are waiting patiently in a queue that snakes around the lower level of a dark, dingy carpark.

From afar, you might think they are lining up for the latest sneakers or a much-hyped movie. But these young people from Deakin University are waiting for FareShare meals, along with other essential foodstuffs and toiletries. 

Almost every continent is represented in this diverse queue, which is unified by one motivating force: the need for food.

As the queue inches forward, students’ eyes light up as they approach the crates of nutritious, cooked FareShare meals.

Virtually every student takes one or two. Several of them ask specifically for the same, delicious FareShare meal they have had in previous weeks.

On offer this time is a goat curry, lamb with rice, salmon with gnocchi, a vegetarian cauliflower and cheese bake, and a vegan chickpea masala curry.

This food relief service is provided by the Rotary Club of Box Hill every Saturday. Simon Wheelton is the program director. He is grateful for the FareShare meals we provide and says that the meals are a massive hit with the students. 

Hundreds of students queue up for food assistance in this Deakin University carpark each week.
The program director and Rotarian Simon Wheelton helps three university students select FareShare meals.

“What FareShare does and what we’ve managed to pull together is really awesome,” says Simon. “It meets the need. The students keep coming back and they often comment positively on the meals. They love the quality of them. There’s always variety. And they know they’re safe and healthy.

“When you see this sort of thing happening, so many young people going hungry…it feels good to help out.”

Every week Simon devotes most of his Saturday to running the service. Thankfully, he isn’t alone. Simon is normally assisted by another Rotarian, Sue, and a handful of student volunteers. 

Most weeks, Simon also brings along a special little helper: Molly the sausage dog.

“The students love her. A lot of them haven’t been home in a long time and are missing their dogs. Sometimes more than their families!” jokes Simon. 

For the students who regularly attend this service, it’s the whole package: 

  • a friendly, comforting team of people who engage with them,
  • some pet therapy to alleviate their homesickness, 
  • the ability to pick up essentials to help them through this cost-of-living crisis, 
  • and a hot, tasty FareShare meal to enjoy when they get back home from lining up in the cold.

Simon's sausage dog Molly helps put a smile on these students' faces most weeks.

Read more of our news stories

Food insecurity

NVW 2024 – FareShare Volunteer Profiles

National Volunteer Week (NVW) 2024 – FareShare volunteer profiles FareShare is powered by volunteers. Hundreds of people give up their time every week to help out in the FareShare kitchens, kitchen gardens, warehouse, as well as

Read More »
Skip to content