Food insecurity in South African universities getting worse

South African universities are struggling to address the food insecurity problem on their campuses as students coming from poor families suffer most in food insecurity problem

In a country known for its poor economic status, gaining access to tertiary education is a big achievement for a member of the family. No matter the difficulty of staying in the university, these students push themselves just to finish their studies. One of the most painful enemies they encounter in their daily university experience is the lack of food security.

This is the painful truth behind the South African social economy. Based on statistics, in a State University around 65% of its population came from families that have food insecurity. This occurrence does not limit to state-sponsored universities but also in private sectors.

Students under a scholarship program are entitled a decent amount of stipend for their boarding, food and other personal needs while studying. But with having families back at home that is affected by food insecurity, theses students send out a portion of their stipend to their families to help; leaving those students vulnerable to food insecurity themselves.

Effect of food insecurity to students

The issue of poverty is the main root of the problem, combined with school projects, expensive food, lodging, books, and transport. Students are juggling their available money to sustain their stay in the University.

Having expensive food facilities on campuses doesn’t help the cause for these students. Most universities have limited options for affordable and healthy food accessible in their university cafeterias. Though some make an effort to address the problem.

A few Universities offer feeding programs for food-insecure students and offer additional cash assistance programs for them for an added allowance.

There were also food gardens, gaining access to farm-gate priced food products of local farmers, it helps lower the cost of purchase for students and at the same time benefit the sales of local farmers.

Importance of proper nutrition

Malnutrition is a burden for everyone; especially for students going into a university undergoing intense academic pressure. The limited access to proper nutrition leads to poor health, immense stress, and poor concentration, which eventually translates into poor academic performance and possibly dropping out.

Most of the affected students by food insecurity came from poor families that rely on them as the first generation achievers of higher education. A lot is at stake for them and it just adds up to the pressure in them. These students need to be at their top shape to achieve their full potential and food insecurity does not help in this matter.

The intervention of the government is really important in this matter. Especially for students under the state universities where practically are under the government and should be in the care of the government. Tertiary education is an important backbone of a country’s future; this is where future professionals are made of.

Let us all hope that continuous effort to help address the poverty issue will be handed out by the government.