Evaluation research on the food security programme effectiveness towards managing food insecurity at a South African university
Post-2000 South Africa has seen increasing levels of household food poverty, subsequently food insecurity is a rising phenomenon among university students. Recent sources estimate campus food insecurity across South African universities at 26%. At the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), food insecurity is 51.3% and in 2012 the Institution implemented the Food Security Programme (FSP) to address the problem, in the form of meal vouchers and food hampers to students in need. However, the FSP has not been monitored or evaluated; and lacks documented interpretation of managing the intervention. Therefore, the significance and outcomes of the programme are not yet understood. Through an explorative research design, data were generated from key informants using in-depth interviews. A purposive sample included four middle and three senior managers of the FSP to determine the key informants’ experiences and perceptions in managing the food security interventions in higher education institutions. The findings revealed that the FSP is not formalised and it operates as a self-help initiative linked to a social responsibility activity of the UKZN. ‘Underestimation’ and ‘denial’ of campus food insecurity implications resulted in the lack of prioritisation and mainstreaming of the programme. Ultimately, the FSP lacks sustainable funding, personnel, and infrastructure. As reasoned by the respondents, there is a social stigma associated with food aid. Suggestions and institutional recommendations are made.