Food bank for international students reopens after 5 months
Taipei, November 25 (ANC) A church-run food bank in Taipei providing food and basic necessities to international students reopened Thursday after a five-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The food bank, located in the backyard of St. Christopher’s Church and run by its “Students Helping Initiative Program,” was temporarily suspended in July due to challenges from the COVID-19 situation at the time, said Father Gioan Tran Van Thiet, deputy pastor of the church and chaplain of Vietnamese migrants.
Taiwan first raised the COVID-19 alert to Level 2 on May 11, after a series of locally transmitted cases. That figure was raised to Level 3 on May 19, with new national cases surpassing 100 per day.
After a month of fewer than 100 locally transmitted cases per day, the Central Epidemic Command Center lowered the COVID-19 alert to Level 2 on July 27.
With the national COVID-19 pandemic situation currently stable, the food bank will initially reopen on a trial basis for three days between Thursday and Saturday, with number limits.
The food bank plans to expand its operations until and around the Lunar New Year, Thiet said. The holidays will take place from January 29 to February. 6 next year.
In order to comply with government regulations, the number of students on site will be limited to 20 per day for the first three days and they will need to register in advance to collect pre-packaged food and merchandise to limit unnecessary contact.
The food bank station was first launched in April 2020 to provide food and other essentials, such as soap and hand sanitizer, to international students who have lost their sources of income. when COVID-19 hit many industries and sectors.
“The borders were closed to protect Taiwan, but since then many hotels and businesses have started laying off workers, starting with part-time workers, who are students,” Thiet told CNA. “Many students found themselves without jobs and without the money to pay for tuition and dormitories, food and transportation.”
Therefore, the food bank was started to ease the burden on students, so that they could focus on their studies, Thiet said, adding that students of all races have come to the food bank in the past, including those of Asia, Europe, and Africa.
He also called on the public to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by many international students who have stopped receiving financial support from their families.
“The pandemic is having an impact on their countries and the businesses of their parents,” Thiet said. “Students can’t keep asking because they know their parents can’t support them anymore.”
One of the students receiving support from the church is 21-year-old Nguyen The Anh, also known as Andrew, who is studying in his final year for a bachelor’s degree in finance at a university in Taipei.
“Father runs a small business and when the economy is bad his situation is even worse,” Nguyen told CNA.
Therefore, the church has contacted him with other students to see if they need food and provide them with updates on COVID-19, Nguyen said.
He hopes to graduate in June 2022 and hopes to work in Taiwan for a year.