Food insecurity is a real, but often silent struggle that students are facing on a daily basis. And that is why bursaries that are specifically focused on providing meals to needy students are so important.
A donor that has been making a difference on this front at Stellenbosch University is RoyalMnandi, a specialist outsourced catering company and service provider at various SU residences. The company is currently supporting eight students per year, one for each residence they cater for.
"A RoyalMnandi food bursary means that a student who qualifies will receive all their meals for free," says Project Manager Corlette Becker. According to Becker, they identified the need for food bursaries in 2010 and up until 2017, the company has provided these bursaries to 73 Matie students. Becker says they saw students in residences who did not eat and when asked why, the answer was that they did not have money to buy food.
"The money they have is only enough for tuition and accommodation. Food has become very expensive, and there must be nothing worse than to study, go to sleep and then write exams on an empty stomach. Our aim is to take away that added stress and worry of where the money for their next meal will come from. In this way, these students are able to concentrate on their studies and ultimately excel.
“It is a great privilege for us to be able to help students in this way and we'll be honoured to continue to do so in future," she adds.
SU social worker, Lizzie Witbooi, says that we tend to forget that students also need money for the basic necessities, because if we think of bursaries in the higher education sector, the first thing that comes to mind is usually tuition, books and accommodation fees.
She says that besides the much-needed help from companies such as RoyalMnandi, the University has been addressing food security through different financial coping mechanisms - such as food allowances for bursary students. Students, who do not qualify for financial assistance, because they did not meet the academic criteria for financial aid, are also assisted - all managed through the University's Centre for Undergraduate Bursaries and Loans and Postgraduate Funding.
In addition, the social worker's office has also over the years, established various food initiatives to help students in need. These initiatives include the Vouch4US food voucher project that asks staff members and Maties students to donate a R50 Pick 'n Pay voucher card and the Maties4Maties Food Drive Project that enlists the help of residences and private student organisations (PSOs) to collect non-perishable food items.
Witbooi says that between 2013 and 2016, a total of 797 students who reported at their offices have received assistance through the University's food initiatives. “At the end of the day it is about removing those obstacles that stand in the way of a student's success."
The Vouch4US Pick 'n Pay voucher project was launched in 2013 and is meant to assist students who are in dire need. Students from both Stellenbosch and Tygerberg campuses have benefited from this project. Staff and fellow Maties are asked to donate a R50 Pick 'n Pay voucher or to make a donation into the Stellenbosch University bank account.
Bank: Standard Bank
Account no 073006955
Ref: 6430B project Nood
Proof of payment to be sent to Lorenza George email@example.com.
Maties4Maties Food Drive Project
The Maties4Maties Food Drive Project was launched in 2012. This project enlists the help of University residences and private student organisations (PSOs) to collect non-perishable food items. These food items are then made into food parcels and distributed among needy students.
- If you would like to get involved and make a difference please contact Lizzie Witbooi at the Centre for Student Counselling and Development on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 021 808 4511.
Photo: Seth Segal and Corlette Bekker from RoyalMnandi.