Amira* and her husband arrived in Australia six years ago. Unable to work due to a medical condition and ineligible to access income support because of the couple’s bridging visas.

Amira visits the ASRC Foodbank each fortnight to collect food for herself, her husband and their five year old daughter. Amira says that without the support of the ASRC, there would not be enough money to buy the food they need.

“Without ASRC, we would have to buy food but there would be limits. We would take less so there is enough for our daughter Nahla – less fruit and vegetables, less milk for us.”

The ASRC provides the family with pantry staples as well as fresh produce, eggs, bread and yoghurt, with nuts, honey and spices rotated on a monthly basis. Amira is also able to access most of the ingredients she needs to reproduce traditional dishes – meals that taste like home.

“The spices ASRC provide are great. In our traditional cooking, we use a lot of spices. I can make biryani, vegetable curries. I also make Semae Phirni with rice, milk, sugar and sometimes coconut. This is my daughter’s favourite.”

The ASRC Foodbank has allowed Amira to have a little bit of home, but has also introduced her to foods from other cultures, and she has added couscous, pasta, tinned fish and avocado to her cooking repertoire.

*Name changed to protect the identity of people seeking asylum


Mario* doesn’t want anyone to know he is seeking asylum because he fears rejection from his own community. He doesn’t have work rights while he awaits an outcome of his protection visa application.

“I’m 22 years old, I’m strong, intelligent, I don’t want to live off charity, I want to work to make my own future & even taught myself English when I was little by watching Pokemon and Friends, on top of my school classes. I already did half of a bachelor’s degree in my home country before I was obliged to get out of there.

But here in Australia, I can’t legally work right now, so I don’t have enough money to live, and I can’t finish my studies because of my status.

I go to the ASRC Foodbank on Monday and get my groceries for the week. I cook all the food for the week and everything goes to the freezer. I love making lentil soup with rice (I put carrots and peas in my rice, just like my mum did), and I also make vegetable soups that when I heat up I crack an egg in there and it makes the soup more delicious.

Then Tuesday to Sunday, it’s all about my 3 jobs washing dishes and kitchen hand in two places and cleaning construction spaces after 5pm.

I got a bicycle from a charity in Richmond and that is my transport. When I ride between jobs, I can’t help but visualise I’m moving towards the day I get the call saying “Mario! Your application was approved!"

Let me work, let me study! And I’ll change your country.”

Mario has been a member of the ASRC Foodbank since October 2021. He is relying entirely on the fortnightly support he receives from the Program to put food on his table until his work rights are reinstated.

*Name changed to protect the identity of people seeking asylum