WCCO Food Bank will make it another year

The Wits Citizenship and Community Outreach programme (WCCO) has managed to secure Tiger Brands as its official sponsor for the food bank for 2017, meaning the food bank lives for another year.

The WCCO food bank project is an initiative to give needy students food parcels that can sustain them throughout the month. The sponsorship was secured through a joint effort between the SRC and WCCO. The parcels contain staple foods such as oats, samp, rice, morvite and peanut butter.

“We got our first delivery on January 17 and we have had our second deal already. It’s a lot of food every month and our offices are full but they go out very quickly,” said WCCO senior programme advisor Kuruna Singh.

The sponsorship is structured to last for a year through monthly deliveries of a fixed portion of groceries.

The food parcel is available to any needy students. All such students are welcome to collect the parcels at the WCCO offices underneath the Matrix.

STAYING ALIVE: The tiger brand sponsorship has secured yet another year of stability for those who rely on the WCCO. Photo: Nozipho Mpanza

STAYING ALIVE: The tiger brand sponsorship has secured yet another year of stability for those who rely on the WCCO.
Photo: Nozipho Mpanza

Any student who requires a pack is expected to produce a student card which will be swiped upon collection for tracking purposes. The groceries are expected to last for a month.

The WCCO will soon launch Masidleni, a daily meal project where they will provide fresh meals for students on a daily basis. However, this project will follow a selection process because the WCCO is responsible to pay for it. Students will qualify based on a list of criteria including household income and the applicant’s position in the family, much like NSFAS.

“What we have planned and budgeted for is 600 students, 300 here [main campus] and 300 on Education Campus, so we’ve got quite a few applications,” said Singh.

Although a food sponsorship has been secured through Tiger Brands, members of the Wits community are encouraged to continue with donations. The WCCO is in need of toiletries and other essential non-food items. “We need to work together,” said 2nd year BA student and WCCO volunteer Charlton Tshili.

Related articles:

Wits Vuvuzela, WCCO endorse student tutorship programmes,  February 10, 2017

Wits Vuvuzela, First WCCO “artivism” initiative gets sanitary pads for students, August 13, 2016

Wits Vuvuzela, WCCO breaking down the perceptions of volunteerism, May 6, 2014

Q&A with Thamsanqa Pooe

Thamsanqa Pooe is a member of the Student Representative Council for the 2015/2016 academic year as the Social and Community Development Officer, an Allan Gray Orbis Fellow and considers himself a “servant leader”. He is currently doing his BA in Politics and International Relations. He is one of the founding members of the West Rand Debating Union that teaches young people the skills of public speaking and debate in the area. He is now participating in a popular reality television show, One Day Leader.


Witsies plant a food garden to fight against studet hunger


Wits volunteers are planting a vegetable garden on West Campus this Saturday September 19, to fight back against hunger in the Wits community.


In collaboration with various student volunteers, and various community outreach groups, Wits Citizen and Community Outreach (WCCO) will be planting a vegetable garden on September 19.


Kauna Singh of WCCO says, “Many other universities worldwide are undertaking the planting of fruit trees and emphasizing the associated benefits that they have received.”


Hunger is a reality for many students and the Wits food bank has been battling to keep up with demand for free food items. As previously reported by Wits Vuvuzela, the WCCO food supplies have been running low since the beginning of this year.


On average, 176 food packs have been handed out to an average of 128 students monthly since June this year.


“If we are able to cultivate vegetables from the Wits food garden, students who receive food packs could get fresh vegetables to supplement the non-perishable food that they receive from the Food Bank,” Singh says.


“We are going to plant four plant beds to start off with,” says Ashleigh Machete, founder of JoziFoodFarmer.


The JoziFoodFarmer and Thlago Agricultural Cooperative will be training Wits volunteers the basics of urban farming. These techniques will help them develop a productive food garden that is going to supply fresh produce to the Wits Food Bank.


Volunteers will learn how to sustainably plant vegetables in urban environments. The project has been supported through seedling donations made by students and staff.


“We students are going to maintain it,” says Felix Kwabena of Generation Earth, one of the organisations involved in the garden.


Salad greens, carrots, tomatoes, radishes, onions, potatoes and an assortment of herbs will be planted. Some of which have been germinating for the past three weeks in plastic containers at the WCCO offices.


Machete reckons that, “In about two months we should be having regular harvesting especially with the salad greens”.


The site, which is next to the Wits Nursery on West Campus, already has a watering system with a water hose.


Machete says, “We want to reconnect people with locally grown food and improve public health.”


Students in the Food Sovereignty and Climate Justice Forum are also proposing that fruit trees should be planted on campus. The Forum are in the process of asking the university to look at current policy on plant types on the campus.


Volunteer and member of the Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC) Athish Satgoor says, “The garden is part of a wider effort to create a food commons with multiple gardens eventually and lots of fruit trees on campus.”

Food bank donation busts record

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.

FULLY-STOCKED: The Wits Food Bank recieved two of its biggest food donations from the Wits Junction House Commmittee, the SRC and the WCCO last week Friday. Volunteers at the food bank spent the week unpacking the food items to help students in need. Photo: Riante Naidoo.

FULLY-STOCKED: The Wits Food Bank recieved two of its biggest food donations from the Wits Junction House Commmittee, the SRC and the WCCO last week Friday. Volunteers at the food bank spent the week unpacking the food items to help students in need. Photo: Riante Naidoo.

“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.