NSH logo

The purpose of the No Student Hungry (NSH) programme at the University of the Free State (UFS) is to ensure that the most vulnerable students who have an excellent academic record, but who are food insecure, are provided with healthy food options so that they can successfully complete their studies.

Institutional context

Contributing to the UFS Strategic Plan, Strategic Goal 1 (to improve student success and well-being), the university has compiled a Food Environment Strategy to develop and implement a health-promoting food environment, where students are informed and empowered to take appropriate action regarding their food and nutrition situation. The NSH food bursary programme is one of the key components of this  strategy.

Background and rationale

The problem of inadequate food environments on university campuses has been noted globally over the past decade. As many as 59% of our students do not know where their next meal will come from (Food Environment programme registered with the Department of Higher Education as a Tertiary Institution).

Being situated in one of the poortest provinces in South Africa, a great number of our students are from economically disadvantaged homes and do not have the means to support themselves while studying. The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to the unemploy-ment rate of 34,9% (November 2021 Quarterly Labour Force Survey), adding to the likelihood of our students being affected even more by food insecurity. Another factor that increases the need for food assistance is a delay in the delivery of bursary funds. 

Inadequate funding for living expenses, accompanied by a lack of knowledge and skills to plan, procure, and prepare healthy meals on the budget available, contributes to the hunger situation on our campuses. Students who are food insecure also suffer from mental-health issues and are less likely to focus on their studies.

The inability to provide for themselves, together with the added stress caused by their financial struggles, has more than once resulted in some of our most talented students dropping out of university and taking up a job to augment their meagre financial resources. The effects of students dropping out of university are felt at economic and societal level. This loss of learning could waste untold human potential and undermine decades of work to get our students to university where they can build a better tomorrow for them and their families. 

Philosophical context

Food security exists when all people – at all times – have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

According to the 2020 UFS Food Security Survey, 74,8% of students were classified as food insecure, indicating a decrease in food-secure students (40% decreasing to 25%). By not paying attention to students' campus food environments, vulnerable students will be pushed further along the continuum of food insecurity towards hunger; making it even more difficult for them to feed themselves adequately with what is available.

The university is now approaching the problem from a broader perspective. The entire food environment and the entire student population have been considered in the planning of a strategy to develop and implement a health-promoting food environment programme.  

This UFS Food Environment programme, believed to be a first in South Africa, offers students an opportunity for a healthy food environment, empowering them with knowledge and skills to take informed and responsible actions regarding their nutrition and food choices in order to promote their well-being and success.


Contact us:

Institutional Advancement Office:
Nomhle Dorah Klaas
T: +27 51 401 7420
E: KlaasDN@ufs.ac.za

Student Affairs:
Annelize Visagie
T: +27 51 401 3258
E: visagiea@ufs.ac.za

We use cookies to make interactions with our websites and services easy and meaningful, to better understand how they are used and to tailor advertising. You can read more and make your cookie choices here. By continuing to use this site you are giving us your consent to do this.