There is an under-reported,
Studies of food insecurity are pointing to the conclusion that hunger levels among students are higher than they are in SA's general population. This was the sober message from the keynote address delivered by
It was a myth that students represent the “elite” and “cannot possibly be food insecure or hungry”. In
He added that the failures of the beleaguered National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)played a key role in hunger because of long delays with
“It is already August and many students throughout SA have not yet received their bursaries. Many of the students come from very poor families and really rely on these bursaries. This failure to pay has affected them severely,” he said.
Devereux added that hunger had a huge role to play in the dropout rate of students. “If people are hungry, they cannot concentrate, they become stressed and anxious. A number of these students are working on top of studying and this too affects their academic performance.”
Students were simply unable to afford the high costs of living, including food price inflation, the VAT increase
Devereux said in SA,
“This problem is concentrated among black and
Devereux described how one of the UWC students he supervises is working as a car guard to try to pay his bills to survive. Another lives in an area where there are gangs. “She is poor and has told me she has to finish her thesis in five months so that she can start working to feed her family. A thesis normally takes a year. Many students are suffering from these sort of problems,” he added.
On the positive side, Devereux said, there were many initiatives, such as food banks and other projects being undertaken by universities,
Examples include: the University of Witwatersrand has a food bank which provides 2500 students with one food pack per month, valued at R430, and which includes corned beef, rice, lentils, beans and peanut butter; the Masidleni Daily Meal Project provides a hot lunch on weekdays to 900 students and the SVP Soup Kitchen, run by the Holy Trinity Catholic Church offers lunch to Wits students from Monday to Friday; Wits Inala promotes food self-sufficiency among students by cultivating food gardens on campus.
At the University of Johannesburg, the Stop Hunger Now initiative, funded by private donations, provides 7000 meals a week.
At the University of Free State, the No Student Hungry campaign, started by former
The University of KZN provides assistance to students in the form of food hampers or meal vouchers, as well as offering
The University of Zululand has an
The University of Cape Town provides students living in residences with vouchers to buy food.
At the University of Western Cape, the Gender and Equity Unit runs a food bank that offers food parcels to needy
Ikamva Lethu is run by the Student Representative
“There is also an amazing initiative at UWC called The Fairy Godmother, initiated by a student who saw how students were struggling and set up a Facebook page where people can write up their needs for financial aid and invite others to contribute.”
Devereux said the initiatives were inspiring. “Most universities around the country have these small ad hoc schemes providing some kind of support. But they are not
The colloquium is organised by the Socio-Economic Rights Project at the Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape, in collaboration with the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security.
Article by: Mologadi Makwela