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UKZN addresses student food insecurity with sandwich drive

The rising cost of living has made it even more difficult for students, who often have limited financial resources, to afford nutritious meals regularly.

THE University of KwaZulu-Natal Food Security Programme (UKZN-FSP) is taking proactive steps to address student food insecurity through the Sandwich-A-Day initiative that runs across all five campuses daily for the duration of the June examinations.

The initiative aims to provide 1 000 sandwiches per campus, with the exception of the Medical School campus which will receive 500 sandwiches due to its size.

This intervention, which was initiated by the Students Representative Council (SRC) and supported by the HIV and AIDS Programme and UKZN Foundation, has been successful in meeting daily targets.

The sandwiches are prepared, packaged and distributed to students by SRC members, who have been actively involved in supporting the food security drive. They have mobilised SRC members, ad-hoc committees, clubs, and societies to assist with meal preparations.

As part of the strategic coordination of the UKZN-FSP, the manager of the HIV and AIDS Programme and Disability Support Unit, Amith Ramballie, has been actively involved in ensuring the delivery of food support services. The HIV and AIDS Programme, which he leads, has been volunteering in rolling out the UKZN-FSP for the past three years. He noted that the UKZN-FSP also acknowledges the impact of food insecurity on students’ well-being and academic success.

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“Inflation and the state of the economy in South Africa have significant implications for food security, particularly among students. The rising cost of living has made it even more difficult for students, who often have limited financial resources, to afford nutritious meals regularly. The HIV and AIDS Programme also sets aside some of its cost savings for this year to support the Sandwich-A-Day initiative,” said Rambellie.

SRC President Wandile Majozi added, “With a large number of students relying on financial aid, including those not funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), the programme in some way helps ease the stress of hunger.”

The UKZN Student Food Security Programme, established through the UKZN Foundation, received generous support from students, staff, alumni, businesses and members of the public. This funding was also instrumental in the roll-out of the Sandwich-A-Day programme. Looking ahead, the UKZN-FSP plans to institutionalise the programme and establish hot-meal kitchens before the end of the year.

Executive director (acting) of the UKZN Foundation Steve Camp said, “As an advocate for student health, I am really excited to see this SRC initiative come to fruition to assist students. To mitigate the adverse effects of the rising cost of living, inflation, and economic challenges on food security for students, it is crucial to collaborate and implement targeted interventions.”

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Kerry Lee Philp of UKZN’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Research and Development (WASH R&D) Centre donated to the programme. “I wanted to make a difference because I know how important good nutrition is for students. Good health is a vital part of enabling learning. This is one way that I can do something. Projects like these are important as they show an institution’s awareness of and willingness to do something about addressing the basic needs of its students. I encourage more people to donate.”

Associate professor of Linguistics at the School of Arts, Professor Heike Tappe, added, “By contributing monthly to campus food security, I know this will make a difference to students.“”

If you want to contribute to the Programme or any other fundraising projects, you can donate at least R50 via https://ukzn.devman.co.za/devman/online/genomics/

For more information, contact Amith Ramballie at 031 260 8824/ Ramballiea@ukzn.ac.za or contact Steve Camp at 031 206 2395/ camps@ukzn.ac.za

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