HOW TO Get Food At Varsity

Consider these tips from a University of Johannesburg (UJ) honours student in order to assist you in smart spending on varsity necessities.

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By Gaby Ndongo

An early morning lecture, with a grumbling stomach, should not be how your mornings play out at varsity. Don’t let hunger affect your studies or cause unnecessary spending. Look around at your life.

Look at the room in which you sleep, the people that you hang around with, the types of books that you buy and where you purchase your food to see how you can cut down on some of the avoidable costs of varsity life.

Consider these tips from a University of Johannesburg (UJ) honours student in order to assist you in smart spending on varsity necessities.

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Universities usually have huge and scary building, but they are friendly when you get to find out what services they provide to make your stay easy. Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels.

Find out about your university’s food services

Find out about the food services available at your university. At UJ, for example, there is Gift of the Givers (GOG) meals initiative, which provides meals to students at the University’s four campuses – APK, APB, DFC and SWC.

The “GOG initiative is currently assisting students with two meals a day. That happens in the morning for breakfast and also in the afternoon,” said Student Development Practitioner Mandla Mathonsi. Mathonsi is responsible for Student Welfare at UJ’s Student Life within the Department of Student Affairs.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has the Food Security Programme. It avails free packed lunches to students from Monday to Friday, starting at 11:00 to 14:00 in Room 1.04 on Level 1 of the Robert Leslie Social Science Building on Upper Campus.

RELATED STORY: HOW TO Apply For Gift Of The Givers At UJ

To supplement your groceries, you may also inquire about the food parcels that are provided to students by UJ’s Student Affairs. The food items include basic breakfast items such as Movite, Jungle Oats, instant porridge and perishable food like tin beans, Mathonsi explained.

If the food parcel that you receive from Student Affairs is not enough, try seeking assistance from UJ’s Remember and Give (RAG), which can also be found in all of the University’s four campuses near the Student Affairs offices.

“We help students with food parcels,” said UJ 2018 APK RAG chairperson, Bongani Senne. “Every month, we have certain students who we help. We had approximately more than 800 students who we helped,” the third-year BCom logistics student said.

Similarly to the Student Affairs food parcels, RAG also provides essentials such as sugar, oats, Movite, Ace Instant Porridge for breakfast and other items like macaroni, Koo beans and chakalaka, noodles, mielie meal, rice as well as salt on a monthly basis.

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Inquire about your varsity’s inter-campus and res’ bus system to minimise your transportation cost. Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels.

Try to cut down on your transportation cost

Try to cut down on your transportation costs by trying out alternative and convenient means of safely getting to campus, res’ or home to pocket a little cash.

You could inquire about the inter-campus transportation system of your institution. UJ for instance, now makes use of StaBus along with Wits University. Although this mode of transport may not always be the most convenient, you can consult the bus schedule of your institution and use it when possible.

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You may work at the catering service industry to earn some reliable income. Photo by Paul Efe from Pexels.

Get yourself a part-time job

Get yourself a part-time job that allows you to study during the weekdays and work on the weekends. You can use the income that you generate from this job for your food budget and other expenses like transportation.

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Although SA’s food is not priced in dollars, try to keep and compare the prices of what you purchase. Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels.

Compare food prices

Compare prices from the food outlets near your accommodation or campus and identify the one that best fits your budget in order to help you save money.

Another way to save money when comparing prices is to make sure that you visit your nearest market place to see if you can find cheaper deals than your closest food stores.

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Books, books and more books. Photo by Anthony from Pexels.

Consider second-hand textbooks

“By buying second-hand books, they [students] spend a little less than they would if they would to buy new books,” said the branch manager of Protea Bookshop at UJ’s APK campus, Philp Klopper.

This is helpful as certain second-hand books are half the price of their new versions, making it possible for you to cut down on stationery costs and allocate more funds for food.  You can purchase second-hand books from a bookshop or senior students.

But before purchasing any second-hand book, get a quotation for the prescribed books from an on-campus bookstore, such as Protea Bookshop or Van Schaik Bookstore, and find out which editions of the book you need.

At times, some courses have textbooks that need to be modified in a year or two and so, the old ones will be of no value for you to buy or sell.

If you want to make some pocket money for lunch, for example, try approaching (second-hand) bookshops to sell your used books.

“Students can come and sell their second-hand books to Protea Bookshop. They get money for books that they are not using anymore,” said Klopper. “We only buy books that are prescribed for the current semester,” he added.

You could also approach friends or senior students and offer to sell their textbooks for them for a profit.

Find a cooking-mate

Find a cooking-mate to partner up with. The two of you can share groceries and cooking responsibilities, saving you money and time.

“Sharing with my cooking mate has been very helpful ’cause sometimes I don’t need to cook as my cooking mate will cook,” said a first-year Chemical Engineering student at UJ, Lungelo Mbethe.

It also allows Mbethe to save up to half of the amount of money received from parents for food, availing her some funds to spend on toiletries and clothes. Having a cooking-mate will further make it possible for you to develop a friendship.

But, first think about the person who you want to share food with and ensure that they meet your standard of hygiene and food management before going ahead to partner up with them.

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So, you know how to bake. Try baking for some acquaintances during their gatherings. Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels.

Render your cooking services

On the other hand if you have good cooking skills, you could offer them as a service to other students for a reasonable fee.

You can use social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp to promote this service to potential clients. As a result, profits from the cooking service can be channelled to buy food and other varsity necessities.

For more food and money management tips, read page 17-18 and 14-15 of GRAD booklet, respectively.

Join the GRAD Facebook community for weekly tips.

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Keep this image somewhere that you can easily reach. Illustration by Gaby Ndongo.

Reporting by Gaby Ndongo; Editing by Kupakwashe Kambasha and Amber Richardson.

Feature image: The food items that one received as part of the food parcel from UJ Student Affairs at its APK campus on Thursday, 12th April 2018.

Image courtesy to Gaby Ndongo.

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