GEORGE TOWN: Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has started a programme called “Kami Prihatin (We Care)”, providing free meals to 150 students who come from poor families.
Behind it is USM’s Student Representatives Council and the lunches are funded by private companies while the dinners are sponsored by Yayasan USM, the university’s corporate arm.
“We have two meal programmes. The first is for 50 students who have been getting lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays since December,” said its vice-president II Wang Wee Foong.
“Another 100 are getting dinner since Jan 6 and this will go on until our semester break next Saturday.”
The recipients either applied for the meals themselves or were selected by USM’s student affairs department, he said.
“There are many students with financial difficulties and this is our first initiative to help them,” he added.
The student council is looking for additional sponsors which can help with the meals after the semester break.
First year USM student Ridzuan Musau, 20, who was having a free meal provided at the university yesterday, said he was used to skipping lunch daily.
“I eat a light breakfast and dinner only. My budget is just RM10 a day so I can only afford to eat in the canteen,” he said.
He was very grateful for the free dinner of kampung fried rice, an omelette and a drink.
Ridzuan said his studies were funded by a loan from the National Higher Education Fund Corporation but he needed to keep some of it for his family in Sabah.
Another student who was having the free dinner was Muhammad Shafiq Mad Sab, 20, who is from Muar.
“One loaf of bread is what I usually have to last me a week,” he said.
“Sometimes I get hungry at night but I ignore it. I am used to it.”