South Australian youth reach out to struggling international students

The SAYM team in action.

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Adventist youth in South Australia are working to supply food hampers to a demographic that have been largely overlooked in the COVID-19 crisis: international university students.

“A number of them haven’t been able to go back home with everything that’s been happening,” explained South Australian Conference youth director Pastor Joel Slade. “Many of them have also lost their jobs because the hospitality industries they were employed in have been shut down. The government doesn’t provide any support, and many of their parents are also struggling financially back home so can’t help.”

International students gratefully receiving food hampers.

Every Wednesday, young people involved with South Australia Youth Ministries (SAYM) have been gathering at College Park Seventh-day Adventist Church, under the leadership of Marek Jantos, to collect and assemble food into hampers to be sent out to an international dormitory in Adelaide, home to mostly PhD students from the city’s three major universities.

“We we’re delivering individual hampers to 80 students but now we just supply them a large delivery of goods for their communal kitchen,” Pastor Slade explained.

The food is sourced from FoodBank by Pastor Jan Pollok, who has experience running the ADRA community pantry at Trinity Gardens Church. Thanks to services like AusHarvest and FoodBank, the food costs only about $A3 per person and consists of fresh produce as well as imperishables and pre-made meals donated by a local cafe. According to Pastor Slade, the success of the operation is thanks to mobilising lots of people through partnerships with the local community.

Girls from SAYM helping to prepare food hampers.

“We’ve built a relationship with the dorm manager who arranges when we can send the goods to the students. And we’ve also connected with a local cafe in the area who used to employ about 10 international students, that can’t afford to anymore but still want to help them,” explained Pastor Slade.

The response to the food delivery ministry has been overwhelmingly positive, and Pastor Slade is excited about how the ministry—through connecting international and Adventist University students—will continue beyond COVID-19.

“We’ve been trying to connect with this demographic for a while. And what we’re hoping to do is continue with a pizza and hang-out ministry for the students. The food delivery is now building a relationship where, when the restrictions lift, we can invite these guys back for a meal.”

If you would like to get involved and support this ministry, you can contact SAYM on Facebook or Instagram and:

  1. Let them know of international students in Adelaide who would benefit from Receiving a food hamper
  2. Come and help SAYM pack the hampers and deliver goods
  3. Donate money to help buy food ($A3 per meal) via this link.

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