The need to upscale and coordinate our interventions on ‘food’ as a key priority for Nelson Mandela University’s engagement work emerged through various discussions during over the past few years.

The production, distribution, availability and politics of food is a key marker of systemically-anchored inequalities. It thus came as no surprise that ‘food’ re/emerged as a major thematic through Covid-19; central to people’s daily struggle for dignified and sustainable livelihoods and income.

In considering the existing food projects in the university space, the potential to evolve a productive and collaborative transdisciplinary project across knowledge-fields and functional areas of the university; to consider student, university, urban, township and rural food systems that are deeply connected to our broader communities, became evident.

The project is located within the DVC Engagement and Transformation Portfolio (ETP), and aims to work across faculties and units, different sets of networks within the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM), as well as the Eastern Cape as a whole.

At present, the Mandela University Food Systems consist of the internal stakeholders which are staff members of Mandela University. However, plans are in progress to include external stakeholders who are the surrounding communities of Mandela University for further engagement and co-learning in the space of food and food systems.