By Mary Hames and Desiree Lewis

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Media reports, research, and student support services are paying an increasing amount of attention to the hunger experienced by students at South African universities. This article demonstrates that most of this attention is rooted in a food security paradigm, or in approaches that mitigate the effects of student hunger. It avoids addressing the causes of hunger, which lie in oppressive systems such as the neoliberal world food system and the operation of the entrepreneurial public university. Our discussion of trends at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) takes two trajectories: We explore the ways in which universities’ practical and research priorities reinforce hegemonic responses to hunger, and we reflect on explicitly politicised currents of critical work around students and hunger. What certain scholars and activists have termed “critical food system literacy” signals how transformative strategies and knowledge production are being developed at some universities—sometimes beyond the parameters of what is conventionally seen as food-centred advocacy, activism, or research.

Originally published in Gender Questions, 9, 1.

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