TuksRes, in conjunction with the Residence sub-council, have implemented a Meal Bank programme.
TuksRes, in conjunction with the Residence sub-council, have implemented a Meal Bank programme, where students who have less than R3960 left in their student meal account will have their daily limit reduced from R100 to R30. TukRes stated that the purpose of this programme is “ to ensure that all students have at least R30 available per day for the remainder of the academic year ([until] December 2nd)”.
The Meal Bank programme was initially pitched to residence students at the beginning of the second semester as a Pilot Project that students could sign up to participate in. Flyers went up in residences during the week of 17 July, where the pilot programme was described as, “a proposed food model […] being tested for implementation which will start from Wednesday, 17th July.” The flyer further explains what the pilot programme will do by stating that, “students will have a dedicated R30 […] per academic day taken from their current meal balance, until the last academic day after the November/ December 2019 examinations”. The proposed pilot programme would select a number of students at each residence to be involved in the testing, students were randomly selected – including students with low meal account balance (below R3960) and students with meal accounts above the minimum required balance.
“ to ensure that all students have at least R30 available per day for the remainder of the academic year ([until] December 2nd)”.
On 2 August, TuksRes began to roll out the Meal Bank Programme, where all students who did not have enough funds in their student meal account to have a minimum of R30 per day to last the academic year were automatically placed onto the Meal Bank programme and had a daily limit of R30 they could use in residence dining halls. Students not placed onto the programme had the required minimum of R30 per day for the remainder of academic year and a R100 buffer. An example of how it works: if, on 2 August, a student has a meal account balance of R3660, therefore R30 X 122 days = R3660, the student is then placed on the Meal Bank. However, if the student’s meal account balance on 2 August is R3760, therefore R30 X 122 days = R3660, plus the R100 buffer, the student will not be placed on the Meal Bank.
On 5 and 6 August, flyers were placed in TuksRes dining halls explaining how the meal bank programme would work. The flyer explains that students were able to reverse being meal banked by loading money onto their meal accounts, however, money loaded would have to include a minimum daily amount of R30 until 2 December, plus the R100 buffer in order to be removed from meal banking. The flyer also explains that if, during the academic year a student meal account falls below a minimum required balance, that student will be meal banked.
The Meal Bank programme was met with student outrage, with students flooding WhatsApp groups, the emails of House Committee, Head of Residence and TuksRes, house members protesting by not participating in voting for new House Committee Members for the 2019/2020 term and social media posts asking to be removed from the programme. Students provided the following reasons as to why they felt the programme was flawed; “[it is] very problematic that they expect students to function on one meal a day.”, “this will unfortunately impact people who solely rely on DH food”, “we can’t cook food in our rooms we rely on DH food daily”, “as seniors we have learnt how to manage our finances” , “food prices are not realistic and this will limit variety in food purchased, it also does not take into account the dietary requirements of Kosher, Halaal, vegetarian and Hindu house members”, “[you] can’t afford to get a drink with your meal of the day or even a box or grease paper for that meal”, “[the] meal of the day doesn’t cater to all diets preventing certain groups from eating them. Chips and chocolates are not a meal.”
On 7 August, TuksRes announced that students could opt out of being meal banked by emailing email@example.com to receive a form to fill out and send back.
Photo: Sam Mukwamu