Feeding Hungry students for Mandela Day

18 Jul 14


The scourge of hunger faced by thousands of students in South African universities will be brought to the fore this Mandela Day.

At least 5 583 students at four universities – the University of the Free State (UFS), University of Johannesburg (UJ), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and Witwatersrand University (Wits) - regularly do not have a cooked meal in three days due to inadequate finances, according to  Stop Hunger Now Southern Africa (SHN SA), an international hunger eradication agency.

“It is not just young pupils who have to attend class with an empty stomach. There is a perception that once these same children matriculate and go on to university,   they can somehow fend for themselves but this is not the case and results in poor academic performance and high dropout rates, ” said SHN SA CEO, Barry Mey.

The SHN SA university intervention has been in effect over the past three years, donating meals to UJ, Wits and UFS. This month SHN SA has partnered with The South African Breweries (SAB), whose employees will mark Mandela Day by spending 67 minutes packing meals to aid poverty-stricken university students at two Gauteng universities.

South Africa’s largest brewer has called on employees to join their company’s 20:27 Challenge – celebrating 20 years of freedom and commemorating the 27 years that former president Nelson Mandela spent in prison. The company aims to have 540 employees in 27 teams volunteer on July 18.

SAB will be using Mandela Day as an opportunity to enhance staff morale while at the same time improving students’ chances of completing their studies. This has the knock-on effect of positively contributing to the country’s economy and decreasing the professional skills gap.

For every team of 20 employees who participates, SAB will contribute R9 000, translating into 3 272 meals which will feed 22 students 12 meals a month for a year. The more employees who participate, the more SAB will contribute and the more students can be fed.  The aim is to benefit a total of 606 students from Wits and UJ for an entire year.

SAB will be exploring how to make feeding varsity students a sustainable initiative going forward.

“The SHN SA 2014 Mandela Day ‘Meals in Memory’ meal packaging event addresses one of government’s triple challenges - poverty - and we hope to preserve the country’s next generation of leaders by assisting our young talent through their university years, ” said Mey.

The SAB 20:27 challenge will see 27 teams of SAB employees packaging meals at the Meals in Memory event taking place today at the Sandton Convention Centre.