Grub cupboard bare for hungry Wits students
Wits University students who are going hungry might have to find alternative sources of food. This is at least until the Wits Food Bank is fully stocked up again. Thami Pooe‚ social and community development officer in the student representative council‚ said the repository had run out of food for needy students. “The hunger crisis at Wits is a dreadful and painful reality‚” he said. “It is exam time now‚ meaning many students are studying from home and they could be eating the food provided through the food bank.”Arson fear at Wits campusWits University is investigating an apparent attempt to burn down a campus building at the weekend. Pooe added that food insecurity was one of the “leading causes” of academic exclusion at Wits‚ with needy students focusing on their next meal over their studies.The Food Bank‚ established in 2013 by the Wits Citizenship and Community Outreach (WCCO) centre‚ relies on donations from students‚ staff and the public. It supplies food hampers consisting of rice‚ soya mince‚ lentils‚ tin food‚ jungle oats‚ peanut butter‚ tea‚ salt‚ oil‚ noodles and toiletries to an average 16 students daily.WCCO manager Karuna Singh appealed to the public and businesses for support “so that students who are in need can continue with their studies unhindered”.The WCCO‚ in partnership with the Gift of the Givers‚ this year introduced a daily feeding programme‚ providing students with at least one hot meal a day.Meanwhile‚ the University of the Free State has raised over R3.6-million through donations from businesses‚ staff‚ students and the public towards the No Student Hungry bursary programme since its inception in 2011.The NSH campaign was started by outgoing rector Professor Jonathan Jansen following a study‚ which revealed that nearly 60% of students were food insecure.Spokesman Lacea Loader said 150 UFS students were each allocated R6‚ 475 per year‚ which is divided into weekly transfers to supplement food allowances.University of Johannesburg allocates R11-million a year towards its meal support scheme‚ with which the Gift of the Givers generates more money and meal supplies.More than 3‚500 needy students are provided with two cooked‚ balanced meals a day‚ including breakfast and dinner on weekdays and weekends.“The university is seeing positive indications. We have noticed remarkable improvement in the self-esteem of these students and this has translated into improved academic performance‚” said UJ spokesman Herman Esterhuizen.