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Showing care with 301 meal cards / by Fan Anqi, June 8, 2016 Adjust font size:

Nanjing University of Science and Technology (NUST) has prepared a special gift for 301 students – each student is to receive a special subsidy ranging from 11 yuan (US$1.68) to 340 yuan (US$52.05) on their lunch cards. They will continue to receive the monthly subsidies until they leave school, thanks to a new project launched by the university.

Intended for impoverished students, the program is a part of a broader effort to alleviate poverty. The subsidy is put directly onto students' meal cards without telling them. "We want them to feel cared for without hurting their dignity," NUST official Wang Hu explained.

Impoverished students made up 27.5 percent of NUST’s student body in 2015, and finding a way to help them without hurting their dignities was no easy task. The school eventually decided to offer meal subsidies, since all other expenses, including tuition fee and accommodation, are already covered.

The school collected 16,000 undergraduates' meal card records from September to November. The data revealed that each student spent at least 7 yuan (US$1.07) per meal. Using the minimum standard of 60 meals a month, students will spend about 420 yuan (US$64.30) each month.

"Students do not have to submit any application or fill in any evaluation form," Wang said, "The lunch-card records explicitly show us their economic condition."

Under the plan, the foundation will issue 36 thousand yuan (US$5,514) in aid to students each month of the academic year, excluding summer and winter vacations.

The project has also attracted attention on Chinese popular microblog Sina Weibo. "This is really an innovative and humane approach of targeted poverty alleviation," commented one netizen. However, some others have also expressed concerns over the lack of supervision: "The intention is good, but corruption may occur since the donation is made 'secretly'."

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