The University of Otago and Otago University Students Association (OUSA) have teamed up to support students in self-isolation due to COVID-19.
Evolving from OUSA’s existing food bank service, the new initiative sees care packages of essential supplies distributed to students self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 or after having been identified as close contacts.
The packages include food staples such as baked beans, rice, pasta, oats, fresh fruit and vegetables, hygiene items like toothpaste, soap and hand sanitiser along with treats and items to alleviate isolation boredom.
The new initiative sits alongside OUSA’s ongoing welfare and hardship fund, and it is also currently working on the ability to collect and deliver essential prescription items, and select click and collect orders.
“We are aware that this may be a challenging time for students in isolation, who do not have the ongoing financial means to support themselves,” said OUSA president, Melissa Lama.
“We have seen a strong uptake on the care packages over the last few days, and the OUSA team has mobilised fast to facilitate deliveries.
“During this time, we urge our greater community to be kind and to check in on one another.”
OUSA is in charge of assembling the care packages, receiving requests for them and for their delivery to students. The University is providing funding support to purchase items for the packs, comprising at this stage an initial grant of $50,000 and a further $50,000 tagged for allocation if or when it is required. Additionally, the University is supporting OUSA in soliciting donations and at-cost supply of items for the packs from local businesses.
Otago University Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Murdoch says the University’s financial support for the care package initiative follows support provided last year for OUSA’s food bank scheme.
“We are delighted to be working with OUSA on this initiative as another way to support our students at what is no doubt an unsettling time.”
“Funding is being provided from the University’s Pūtea Tautoko financial support initiative, which has now distributed close to NZ$6 million in financial aid to students since it was established in 2020,” he said.