Waste Not, Surplus Food Wanted - Business Media MAGS

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Waste Not, Surplus Food Wanted

FoodFoward SA is asking for more donations of surplus food to meet increasing demand, reports Caiphus Kgosana.

FoodForward SA is a nonprofit organisation that works with supply chains of retailers, wholesalers and farms to recover food that these businesses consider surplus and is destined for the rubbish bin. The organisation collects and distributes this surplus food to needy people daily.

Before COVID-19 struck, the organisation was feeding 255 000 people daily, but has since had to scale-up operations to feed 455 000 people daily, due to the high demand brought about the pandemic-related lockdown.

FoodForward SA sifts out good quality food from the surplus and, working with 1 000 beneficiary organisations, distributes it to old-age homes, after-school facilities, community creches, soup kitchens, shelters and skills development centres countrywide.

FoodForward fund manager Deidre Adams says that since ramping up operations to meet the increased demand for the provision of daily meals, the food it sources is not enough and the organisation is forced to buy extra provisions at great cost.

The organisation’s work is supported by donations from corporates, foundations, trusts and individuals – both local and international. “Many of the large banks have donated funds as part of their COVID-19 contribution,” Adams says.

Foreign money gratefully accepted 

ACOVID-19 relief donation of R100-million from the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany has enabled the City of Cape Town to assist those in need during lockdown.

In September, the city announced the donation made via the KfW German Development Bank, saying it would bolster its COVID-19 humanitarian relief efforts.

Throughout lockdown, the city has been supporting some 200 soup kitchens. “We have seen how devastating the impact of the national lockdown has been on many of our residents who have lost jobs and are unable to provide for their families.

“We have worked throughout the lockdown to support soup kitchens with equipment and ingredients so that they can provide a warm meal to residents in need. However, we are noticing that many of our residents still need assistance with food,” says Dan Plato, executive mayor.

“I am extremely grateful for the R100-million funding because I know just how many residents this is going to benefit,” Plato says.

The funds will enable the city to provide staff and learners at early childhood development centres and their families, and residents involved in community food gardens with 25 000 food vouchers per month for three months. The funds will also help to support soup kitchens in Hanover Park, Manenberg, Nyanga, Gugulethu and areas of Khayelitsha.

“We are in this together. This is about solidarity with the most affected to inspire hope and give comfort. And it is about strengthening local communities and those who care for their families, friends and neighbours. In the spirit of ubuntu, we want to contribute to the wave of solidarity,” explains German Ambassador Martin Schäfer.

Thinking beyond food donations   

Urban farmer Alex Woolfe has pitched the idea of a sustainable food garden to members of the Ikemeleng Foundation in Diepsloot. They are exploring how it can help the community to grow its own food and are discussing everything from soil management to irrigation schemes.

Woolfe was brought to the area by the Diepsloot Youth Programme (DYP) a nonprofit organisation he works with to develop school gardening projects. He has been tasked with designing a food garden for the nearby informal settlement.

The DYP was one of the beneficiaries of a generous donation made in April by the Douw Steyn Family Trust. Along with the South African companies Steyn founded – Telesure Investment Holdings, incorporating Auto & General Insurance, 1st for Women Insurance, Dialdirect Insurance, Budget Insurance, 1Life and hippo.co.za – as well as Steyn City Properties and the Saxon Hotel, they pledged R320-million to assist in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact.

A further R200-million is being used to support feeding schemes in communities that surround Steyn City, north of Johannesburg.

Sophie Tlhabadira of the DYP says that starting food gardens is a way of thinking beyond food parcel donations. “We want something more sustainable, that’s why we have brought a farmer here. We are planning for at least 30 community members to plant their own seeds by the end of December.

Food for the needy and neglected 

It’s 9am at the Diepsloot community hall and volunteers from the Ikemeleng Foundation are already hard at work peeling potatoes and carrots and dicing spinach in preparation for the lunchtime rush.

Ikemeleng Foundation was started in June this year by Percy Malepe who said he was tired of the poverty in Diepsloot and wanted to do something about it. So he and friends set up the foundation and partnered with the Diepsloot Youth Programme – a nonprofit organisation that works with schools and community organisations in the area – to start a soup kitchen. The kitchen feeds 350 people, especially those with chronic illnesses, substance abusers, vulnerable children and undocumented migrants, Monday to Friday.

“I grew up in an impoverished environment with an unemployed single mother. We often didn’t know where our next meal would come from. I don’t want others to walk that path,” says Malepe, who chairs the foundation.

Kgomotso Mohale, the foundation’s treasurer, says while government was distributing food parcels in Diepsloot during the hard lockdown, they noticed that people without identity documents or passports and nyaope addicts were excluded. Ikemeleng’s soup kitchen cooks especially for those who fall off the government radar.

“We also found a lot of sex workers, young women who sell their bodies for as little as R20 because they are desperate for food. Those are the people we’ve been able to assist,” she explains.

Sophy Tlhabadira of the Diepsloot Youth Programme says that her organisation supports seven other soup kitchens in the area, each feeding an average of 200 people per day. A number of corporates including Century Property Development, Douw Steyn’s Telesure Investment Holdings and the Steyn City Trust have contributed generously.  Tlhabadira’s organisation partners with organisations such as Ikemeleng Foundation to make sure that food assistance reaches the right people.

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