International students across Australia rely on free food to survive as they go stranded without support

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International students and other temporary visa holders locked out of federal government support are relying on food banks and restaurants giving away free meals to survive during the coronavirus pandemic.

Images of long lines outside emergency relief services have emerged in the international student hubs of Sydney and Melbourne, as well as smaller cities including Darwin.

Australia has more than 560,000 international students, many of whom have supported themselves with part-time or casual jobs while studying.

But as the economy has shut down and with the federal government declining to offer direct financial support to temporary visa holders, the queues forming outside food banks each day suggest that startling numbers are now struggling to feed themselves.

National food relief charities say the increase in demand has been huge, driven by a surge in requests from temporary visa holders.