The SRC, who are partnered with the Wits Citizenship and Community Outreach centre (WCCO) donated the largest amount of food to the Wits Food Bank last week Friday. The Wits Junction House Committee (WJHC) donated the second largest amount of food cans earlier that day. An average of 15 students visit the food bank daily and are mostly those who are self-funded or funded by NSFAS. The WJHC said they hope to continue to work with the food bank on a more regular basis and will be doing food collections at the end beginning of every month.
The Wits Junction House Committee (WJHC) contributed a record number of 270 food items to the Wits Food Bank last week. A new milestone, but only for an hour with the SRC and Wits Citizenship and Community Outreach centre (WCCO) donating a whopping 625 cans of food later that afternoon.
“I was ecstatic about the record-breaking,” said Tlotlego Ntshole, the WCCO campaign manager. “But it’s not so much about the record-breaking, it’s more about sustaining the food bank.”
Collections were done by all three organisations last week after the Wits Food Bank had nearly run out of supplies.
The 11 members of Junction’s house committee went door to door with boxes and bread crates and said the response from students was “great”.
Thami Pooe, SRC transformation officer, walked around campus with a bin and had help from other Witsies.
“We have a team of 16 volunteers,” Pooe said. “Each volunteer had 20 pledge forms and they approached students and asked them to pledge to bring two cans on Friday. Some people collected in Sunnyside, in Jubilee and South Point.”
Pooe added that this approach “created a big network”. Cans were also collected in bins which were outside the Matrix and FNB building.
“There are days when the food bank is just depleted,” Ntshole said. “Although this second campaign was big, we thought we’d be able to help a lot more students.”
Ntshole said that WCCO ran their own campaigns and drives but only collected one full bin, about 400 cans, earlier this year.
She added that WCCO decided to partner with the SRC after their first campaign and since then, have been able to contribute more food as they reached more students.
Similarly, the WJHC teamed up with Miss Varsity Shield, Buhle Someketa, after they were approached to assist keep the food bank stocked.
“We set dates and on those actual dates we went out with boxes and bread crates,” said Tlholohelo Mokgere, student development officer at the Wits Junction. She added that this was the only way to ensure they would make a concerted effort to contribute.
“We’re hoping to work with the food bank regularly and now plan to do this at the end of every month,” she added.
Ntshole said they keep a database of the students who come to the food bank. “An average of 15 students come a day,” she said. “Most students are on NFSAS or self-funded and live at South Point or are travelling students,” she added.
Mokgere said, “Surprisingly some students live at residences like EOH and Medhurst – catering residences.” She found this surprising and assumed people at a catering residence would find a way “to sort themselves out” but realised that people are “really battling.”
The food bank, which is run out the WCCO office, now has its shelves filled with cans of sardines, baked beans, rice, lentils and soups. Volunteers joined Pooe and Mokgere this week where they unpacked and tallied the food items.
“The students’ generosity was a shock at first, but this record encourages the SRC and WCCO to continue collecting cans and creating awareness,” Ntshole said.