Schemes put in place to close the gap left by the lockdown-induced suspension of the food bank. 

Wits students at risk of hunger are benefiting from two monthly feeding schemes that were launched on July 6, in readiness for the commencement of the second semester.

Wits Citizenship and Community Outreach (WCCO) distributed food parcels to over 250 of the university’s students while Wits International Amnesty (AIW) provided supermarket vouchers to eight students. 

Karuna Singh, senior programme advisor at WCCO said they were distributing the food parcels in self-catering residences and private accommodation in Braamfontein. 

The parcels contain a variety of canned meats and vegetables, condiments such as jam and peanut butter and other grocery staple foods. These allow students to prepare their own meals within their accommodation, as they are not able to collect meals from the Wits food bank which remains closed during lockdown.  

WCCO food parcels contain staples to allow students to prepare meals in their residences. Photo: Zinhle Belle

Bongani Shumba (23), a finalyearBA PPE student and his friend, Thabo Kolele(21), a third-year BA law student are two of the volunteers who distribute the food parcels.

Shumba said he had compiled a list of 40 students that needed the assistance after noticing that “some students who are not funded nor receiving any allowances were struggling”. 

One of the beneficiaries through Shumba is Pennylope Sedikwe, (19), a first-year bachelor of health science student from North West province, who relied on on-campus feeding schemes before lockdown.

“I needed the food parcel since I am back at my private accommodation in Braamfontein. The food parcels help me minimise my total expenditure on groceries,” Sedikwe said. 

AIW, which has paused its on-campus feeding initiative called the Communal Kitchen, had to find another way to support the eight students who are its regular beneficiaries.

“We send the students a voucher directly to their mobile number, which they can redeem at the Shoprite of their convenience. This method also has the added benefit of letting the student pick the items essential to them,” said Tumisang Ramasedi, (20), co-chairperson of AIW student and workers affairs.  

Both WCCO and AIW say they initiated these “contactless” feeding schemes as a safer alternative while still providing food security for Wits students during the lockdown. 

Featured Image:  WCCO distributed the first batch of food to be made into parcels for students in Wits residences in Braamfontein on July 8. Photo: File

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