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Souped up: Chefs with Compassion challenges South Afric...

Maverick Citizen

MAVERICK CITIZEN

Souped up: Chefs with Compassion challenges South Africans to feed the hungry this Mandela Day

Celebrity chef Sasha Zambetti cooking up a pot of hearty soup from rescued produce. (Photo: Supplied by Chefs with Compassion)

Chefs with Compassion, a non-profit organisation dedicated to rescuing food, cooking for and feeding the hungry, is calling on everyone with a kitchen and a heart to help make 67,000 litres of soup for Mandela Day.

For Mandela Day 2020, Chefs with Compassion managed to cook 77,455 litres of soup, exceeding the initial target of 67,000 litres. This was served to over 300,000 hungry people around the country.

“Over 300 chefs stood proudly behind their stoves, united despite the devastation of their industry, taking collective action to put their heart where their passion lies – feeding people. 

“The result exceeded our expectations, given the pandemic setting we find ourselves in, serving 309,820 cups of soup to hungry people nationwide,” said spokesperson Vanessa Naude.

Since 2009, 18 July has been a day of service when South Africans are encouraged to dedicate 67 minutes of their time to help those in need in honour of the humanitarian legacy of former president Nelson Mandela. 

While the occasion has always been marked by large events that bring South Africans together, Covid-19 has limited what people can do to contribute to Mandela Day. 

From left (back row): Yejna Maharaj (SA Chefs), Sasha Zambetti (Celebrity chef), Coo Pillay (Chefs with Compassion), Keanetswe Sematle (Chefs with Compassion volunteer), Lebo Lekotoko (Ndikhoya Dinaledi Services Chefs Academy), Tom Savage (Buns Out), Vanessa Naude (Chefs with Compassion), Ismail Ismail (Compass Insure). Front left (front row): Marion Tanzer (Chefs with Compassion) and Hanneke van Linge (Chefs with Compassion).
(Photo: Supplied by Chefs with Compassion)

In response to the inability of at least 11.8 million South Africans to afford nutritious food, partly as a result of the pandemic, volunteers, chefs, food donors and waste warriors have collaborated to feed the hungry and raise awareness about food waste.

Reflecting on the enormous quantity of soup made for the Mandela Day initiative, the chairperson of Chefs with Compassion, Arnold Tanzer, said they had been overwhelmed by the kindness, volunteerism and interest in making a difference – precisely the spirit that Mandela Day embodies. “This year, as we reach the peak of the third wave and with the government calling on South Africans to isolate as much as possible, getting involved in 67 minutes of doing good on Madiba’s birthday is a little more challenging than usual. 

“However, one of the greatest problems facing our country is that of hunger,” said Tanzer.

He said that this year, the #67000litres challenge is the perfect way for every company, individual and hospitality industry player to give back and feed the hungry. At the same time, the initiative will send a clear message that the food being wasted every day is sufficient to provide every hungry resident in South Africa with three meals a day.

Last year’s #67000litres for Mandela Day campaign in the Jackson Park informal settlement in Johannesburg. (Photo: Supplied by Chefs with Compassion)
Fresh produce rescued from the Joburg Fresh Produce Market. (Photo: Supplied by Chefs with Compassion)

Naude said that through the Mandela Day challenge – “clean out your pantry and spend 67 minutes helping to cook 67,000 litres of soup” – they have specifically targeted home cooks, hotels, culinary schools, kitchens (restaurants, pubs, canteens, catering companies) and corporates, but that anyone with the means could join in. 

She said participants would use products near their expiry date, supplementing them with wholesome and nutritious ingredients to make a hearty soup.

To ensure the initiative is a success, Naude said they are working closely with the founding partners of Chefs with Compassion: SA Chefs, Slow Food International, Slow Food Chefs Alliance SA and Nosh Food Rescue

“We have no idea how many compassionate individuals, hotels, culinary schools, corporates or professional kitchens will participate, but we believe that this challenge will resonate with every South African who wants to make a difference and send a message to the world about the tragedy of 10 million tonnes of food going to waste every year while 19 million people go hungry,” said Naude. DM/MC

To be part of this national Mandela Day Challenge, go to https://cwc.org.za/latest-news/join-the-67000litres-challenge-this-mandela-day, download the information page relevant to your category and click on the link to register online. Follow the story on Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #67000litres.

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