17 June 2020 | Story Dr WP Wahl
Students play leading role to ensure food security

The Division of Student Affairs (DSA) prioritises innovation to meet the challenges of food insecurity and malnutrition among students.  To this end, several student volunteers and student governance structures are collaborating with the DSA on various initiatives.

During 2019, various conversations were held about the possibility of creating a health-promoting food environment at the UFS where students and staff are well informed and empowered to take appropriate action regarding their food and nutritional needs.  These conversations resulted in an institutional strategy to address the food environment at the UFS.  Student representatives serve on a technical committee that directs the implementation of this strategy.  In this regard, several initiatives have already been launched.

Students from residences and other student communities have planted vegetable gardens on the Bloemfontein Campus with the assistance of KovsieACT and the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.  Students and staff are already harvesting and distributing vegetables to needy students every week.  Measurements were put in place to continue this during the COVID-19 period.  The following vegetables were planted: spinach, cabbage, beetroot, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.

Food parcels, donated by Tiger Brands and Gift of the Givers, are continuously handed out by DSA staff and student volunteers.  In this regard, 540 food parcels have already been handed out on the Bloemfontein Campus during the COVID-19 period alone.  During the same time, 117 students received food parcels on the Qwaqwa Campus.  The innovation of this food parcel project rests on the fact that business, NPOs, UFS students, and DSA staff are collaborating to address food insecurity and malnutrition.

More collaborative initiatives will be implemented over the next 12 months.  The DSA staff and students are already working with the Department of Dietetics and Consumer Sciences to create information packages about the preparation of low-budget nutritious meals.

Related article:
Vegetable tunnels established to continue the fight against food insecurity

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