Rise Against Hunger Awareness Drive
Postgraduate students in the Community Nutrition programme in the Discipline of Dietetics and Human Nutrition gathered on the Pietermaritzburg main campus to introduce students who were unfamiliar with RAH to the meal packs it offers. The group, under the supervision of Ms Penny Jarvie, prepared pamphlets about the packs as well as complementary recipes to enhance the flavour and benefits of the meal packs.
The scents of flavourful curried mince and vegetables wafted over campus as the group explained how to prepare cost-effective and healthy meals by adding a range of affordable ingredients to the meal packs, with students visiting the display also having the option to taste finished products.
The pre-packed RAH meals include enriched rice, soy protein, dried vegetables and 23 essential vitamins and nutrients, and yield four to six servings. The Dietetics group explained the cooking instructions, advised on how to store the packs and gave students tips on budget stretching in terms of healthy meal preparation. They also informed students about the important benefits of the fibre, carbohydrates, vitamins and protein in the packs.
The packs are freely available to students on the Pietermaritzburg campus from the Disability Unit and HIV/AIDS Centre.
‘The response to this campaign has been very open; a lot of people didn’t know about the availability of these packs and many suffer in silence, so it’s good that the University has made these available,’ said Community Nutrition student, Ms Tikhala Padambo.
The Postgraduate Diploma in Community Nutrition programme enables students to gain an understanding of nutrition security in South Africa and internationally, and exploring initiatives to improve nutrition security.
They undertake an internship to gain practical experience of community nutrition interventions and their practical experience includes hosting wellness days, assisting at clinics, and presenting talks about nutrition.
Community Nutrition students undertook research on dietary diversity among female students earlier in the year and indicated that many students make less healthy choices due to time constraints, often maintaining unsustainable eating habits. This could be assisted, said Padambo, by the versatility of the RAH packs.
The Discipline of Dietetics and Human Nutrition has a track record of putting its expertise to work to tackle food insecurity faced by students. The Discipline’s Dr Suna Kassier compiled a booklet about healthy eating on a limited budget for the benefit of students, while the Discipline has collaborated with student clubs and University divisions to inform students about healthy, budget-friendly approaches to nutrition.
Staging the awareness campaign in partnership with the Community Nutrition students is an excellent example of how the Campus Management Forum can bring together the expertise and energy of members of the University community to improve life on Campus for everyone.
Campus Director, Professor Albert Modi, who chairs the Forum, commented: ‘Our University accommodates a large number of students who struggle with food insecurity. This programme should be very effective in mitigating student hunger as well educating students about food and nutrition for good health. We are grateful for the support of the private sector and hope to expand it to more companies that can benefit from supporting our ventures.’
Words: Christine Cuénod