Nova Scotia·Global Studies

Lack of jobs leads CBU international students to soup kitchen

International students are becoming familiar faces at a Sydney, N.S., soup kitchen. The trend started in September, which saw a dramatic spike in international enrolments at Cape Breton University.

Loaves and Fishes in Sydney feeding about 10 international students per day

CBU international students Vipindas Mohandas, Clint John and Gokul Krishna share a meal at the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen in Sydney. (Holly Conners/CBC)

Global Studies is a CBC series exploring how the influx of international students at Cape Breton University is transforming the school and the community.

International students are becoming familiar faces at the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen in Sydney, N.S.

The trend started in September when there was a dramatic spike in international enrolments at Cape Breton University, according Loaves and Fishes general manager Marco Amati.

"We see quite a bit. In certain days we see about 18 to 20 that come in to eat," he said.

Amati figures Loaves and Fishes is now feeding about 10 international students per day, on average. Some are mothers with children. And it's not always the same faces, he said.

Marco Amati is the general manager at Loaves and Fishes. (Holly Conners/CBC)

On Monday, Vipindas Mohandas was sharing a meal at a table with friends Gokel Krishna and Clint John.

"It's really nice food they are serving," said Mohandas.

The three just recently arrived in Cape Breton from India for CBU's January intake. They learned about the soup kitchen from friends. 

"We don't have any part-time job," said Mohandas.

"I have applied a few places, but I couldn't find one," said John. "I was out of money. I couldn't afford the food. So I ended up here."

Prior to coming to Cape Breton, the students had to have a pot of money to demonstrate they could pay living expenses should they not be able to find work, said John. They've had to start eating into the pot already, and worry about what they'll do when it runs out.

"So these are the things which are, like, roaming around our head right now," said John. "If I could find a part-time I would be happy. Because compared to other places Sydney is cheap. But the thing is the scarcity of part-times which is pulling us down."

The Loaves and Fishes serves about 10 international students a day. (Holly Conners/CBC)

Amati is glad to be able to help.

"We don't like to see anybody go hungry," he said.

And some international students are offering help in return.

"It's a bonus when they come in to volunteer," said Amati. "They're very polite people, they're very nice. And they work hard."

Grateful for today's meal, the three friends around the table plan to start volunteering with the soup kitchen on weekends.

"'Cause I cannot simply come and eat here," said John. "So sure, I'll do something back. I'll help them for sure."

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Holly Conners is a reporter and current affairs producer who has been with CBC Cape Breton since 1998. Contact her at