Food parcels donated by the Gift of the Givers
Students usually protest around this time of the year because “a student can’t write with an empty stomach”. Most students come from a disadvantaged background and if they don’t have funding, they end up doing extreme things to maintain their needs and wants in university.
Vaal University of Technology (VUT) partnered with Gift of the Givers foundation to provide students with food packages to sustain themselves throughout their periods of study and examinations. The Director of Resource Mobilisation, Dr Narissa Ramdhani said the project was initiated in April this year by the Department of Resource Mobilisation with key players, such as the Gender Projects Unit of the SRC, after many requests were made by students for assistance with student hunger and malnourishment.
“The project is linked to the food insecurity crisis facing tertiary institutions. But it is an area that receives little notice by the authorities, especially at these institutions. Student hunger is a reality that must be addressed in a constructive manner and should be part of the institutional strategy. Hence the Department of Resource Mobilisation has made it a key area of its work with the ultimate aim being to alleviate malnourishment of our students and thus ending the legacy of student hunger,” Dr Ramdhani said.
VUT representatives with the Gift of the Givers delegation
The University has always enjoyed a good relationship with the organisation which has a clear understanding of the importance of addressing a national crisis of food insecurity at tertiary institutions.
Emily Thomas from the Gift of the Givers said that the foundation is not only about disaster response, it also has various projects such as “winter warmer, jump start programme and recently started an audiology programme which helps students with hearing problems”.
“We are here because we heard the plight of our students, we hear they are going hungry and they go to extreme measures to get food and we as Gift of the Givers feel that it’s important to support students in their plight just to provide them with food to see them through,” she said.
The project ensured that 150 students benefitted from the intervention in May and a further 400 students will benefit from the current initiative.
Dr Ramdhani said the organisation was keen to continue the partnership in 2020. However, they will review the nature of the partnership and the structure of the donations so that they ensure that VUT becomes a thriving food environment and can make healthy food available to students.