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Students, food, hunger and food security: a case study of Howard college, university of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

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Food (in) security is a global dilemma that requires multifaceted and sustainable solutions. This is because hunger is unique in every context and it requires an approach that will address the unique challenges of specific contexts – such as the students’ one. Food (in) security is often looked at on a macro scale (such as at a country scale), which leads to negligence of food (in) security issues that take place on a micro scale. The purpose of this study was to investigate issues of hunger and food security on a micro scale, particularly, at the University of KwaZulu–Natal, Howard College campus (UKZN-HC). There is very limited research on student hunger and food security among students. The food sovereignty framework is adopted as a theoretical foundation for this study, for its appropriateness. The aim of this study was to evaluate the manner in which university students access food, and the impact of various food security strategies that have been implemented at the university between 2006 -2015. This aim was achieved by employing in-depth interviews as a qualitative data collection method, which was appropriate to unpack the perceptions and insights of students about hunger and food security in their context, through their lived experiences. The findings suggest that a household’s economic status does matter because students from well-off families endure less hunger than students from poor households. Money is important as a game changer in access to food because those with money have a choice in terms of the quality and quantity of food they eat. National Student Financial Aid Scheme- NSFAS (which is a source of funding provided by the government) is an important player in ensuring food security among students, whose role cannot be ignored. Although feeding schemes do have an impact on hunger reduction amongst students, they are often stigmatising and generally not sustainable. The study also found power differentials in the determination of policy with the university authorities having more power in determining food policies at the University. The study also found out that addressing food security among students is very imperative, because food is a very critical element in enhancing the academic performance of students. As such, the university needs to direct its priorities towards ensuring food security among students, as this can help to enhance their performance; and when students perform well, the ranking of the university improves.


Master’s Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.