A lack of regular access to food is an issue that plagues today’s university students. In addition to negatively affecting students’ health, food insecurity, lack of food impacts students’ ability to succeed academically. To alleviate this problem, Tiger Brands has partnered with the University of Johannesburg (UJ) to assist needy students with free healthy meals. The Food Support Programme was officially launched on Friday, 29 February 2020 at the UJ Soweto campus. Titled, ‘Plates4days’, the programme supports university students by providing for their dietary needs.
Beyond taking advantage of on-campus resources and initiatives, partnerships are crucial. Institutions are working assiduously to address student hunger.
Since its establishment in 2008, Plates4days has substantially grown to a point that it now support as many as 4 500 students with monthly food parcels designed to last for 30 days. The monthly food parcel contains sufficient nutrition for healthy, balanced and non-perishable food.
“We are proud to be able to support the next generation of South African leaders,” said Tiger Brands Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Mary-Jane Morifi. “Plates4days is a nutritional support programme for students, empowering them to focus their energy where it’s needed – on their studies. We help them to grow their knowledge, so they can help South Africa grow.”
To date, Tiger Brands has spent more than R100 million on the project and currently provides meals to students from UJ and the universities of Wits, Western Cape, North West, Free State and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan. “Plastes4days is already helping to meet the nutritional needs of many students,” said Morifi. “But the bigger conversation needs to be about a comprehensive approach to food security at tertiary institutions. We are committed to finding lasting solutions.”
“Food is the last thing a student should have to worry about,” concluded Morifi.
The programme has received accolades from students who are current beneficiaries. “Plate4days is a very good initiative to help students gain access to food. I am grateful for this privilege as some universities don’t have access to the programme. ” said UJ’s Ndumiso Ngwenya, a second year BSc Mathematical Sciences and Applied Maths student who was part of the Ujenius in the previous year.
Sihle Jingilisa, UJ’s 2nd year Communication Logistics student, said as a UJ Community Engagement Champion, she was referred to the programme because she faced food scarcity. “There are many of us on campus who go hungry and I am always advising everyone but especially girls to join this programme to avoid the issue of having ‘sugar daddies or blesses’ to provide them with groceries. I am happy to be part of this great initiative.”
Also speaking at the launch event was An-Li Theron, UJ’s Acting Senior Manager: Fundraising and Development, who pointed out that there is what is called ‘silent hunger’ in our campuses. “30 % of students don’t have food security and there is nothing worse than not knowing when your next meal is coming from”. Beyond taking advantage of on-campus resources and initiatives, mutually beneficial partnerships like this one are crucial to combating food insecurity as well.
“What Tiger Brands is doing, is more than just food parcels. What they give is hope to change society”.
To curb this food insecurity among our country’s brightest and most talented young people, Tiger Brands has committed to supporting students across the country through Plates4days.