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Food Justice


Long walk to feed them: NGOs call for help to tackle SA’s hunger crisis on Mandela Day

Long walk to feed them: NGOs call for help to tackle SA’s hunger crisis on Mandela Day

In the build-up to Mandela Day on Sunday, 18 July, several NGOs are working towards easing South Africa’s acute food insecurity by filling in the gaps and protecting livelihoods.

In the wake of the recent unrest driven in part by hunger coupled with the impact of Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown, food security is becoming an increasing concern. For this Mandela Day, nonprofits are raising money for those facing an immediate loss of income in affected industries, the elderly and vulnerable, and marginalised rural areas.

Since its declaration in 2009, Mandela Day has been about taking action to inspire change across various focus areas. The Mandela Foundation set out these areas based on the following goals for 2019 to 2029:

  1. Food and nutrition
  • Reducing hunger in families through the provision of nutritious meals;
  • Eliminating malnutrition and stunting in young children.
  1. Education and literacy
  • Provision of quality education for all children;
  • All children in early childhood development to have access to learning resources for development.
  1. Shelter
  • Provide safe shelter for families to live and thrive in;
  • Eliminate homelessness.
  1. Sanitation
  • Ensure sanitation that is safe in every school;
  • Enable access to safe sanitation in all communities.
  1. Active citizenship
  • Dedicate more resources to supporting poverty-reduction projects;
  • Encourage public participation and activists’ voices towards the eradication of poverty and inequality.

The 2021 Mandela Day theme – One hand can feed another – prioritises action against hunger and the continuing fight against poverty. The Nelson Mandela Foundation is calling on all Mandela Day champions and members of the Mandela Day global network to help alleviate hunger for millions.

The Imbumba Foundation is among the organisations setting out to inspire change through feeding this Mandela Day. According to Imbumba, with a minimum R250 donation an average family can be fed for two to three weeks with a hamper that contains: 2kg of sugar, two tins of baked beans, two tins of pilchards, two tins of mixed vegetables and 500ml of sunflower oil. Also: 5kg of maize meal, 500g of soup, 1kg of samp, 1kg of speckled beans, 2kg of rice, 100 tea bags, salt, and two packets of Caring4Girls sanitary pads. A donation of R600 can feed a larger family for a month.

Inspired by the Congress of South African Students mantra, Each One Teach One, the Nelson Mandela Foundation is calling on South Africa to take action and play its part in the #Each1Feed1 campaign.

The campaign – a collaboration between the foundation and old and new partners – was launched in 2020 to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable communities. 

The initiative seeks to provide food relief during and after the crisis brought by the pandemic and lockdown. The #Each1Feed1 campaign aims to distribute food hampers to support families for a minimum of three months. The public is invited to donate through this link

Aligning with the 2019-to-2029 goals for Mandela Day, the Maker’s Valley Partnership food hub is determined to continue providing nutritious meals for families in need, but to keep going for the next six months they need R67,000. This will cover monthly operational costs such as stipends for volunteers, gas, cooking oil, data and telephones, as well as transport (collection and distribution of food). The initiative has grown out of the partnership’s Covid-19 response.

For NOAH CAN, physical food distribution has been impossible since the surge of the Delta variant, new Covid-19 positive cases and Level 4 lockdown. 

NOAH CAN coordinator Emily Wellman said: “This is a hard time for our organisation and beneficiaries and the expensiveness of food does not make it any better since we are purchasing food parcels from local supermarkets.”

Wellman said they try to make the most of the emergency parcels they give, which often consist of fresh vegetables, tinned fish, beans and maize meal to make the parcel last long. However, NOAH CAN is always short of maize meal since it’s what most recipients want.

While it does work with organisations such as Unwrapped Co, a zero-waste supplier of affordable dried, non-perishable food, NOAH CAN needs to raise money to buy good, nutritious maize meal.

This Mandela Day NOAH CAN is asking everyone with the means to help raise 6.7 tons of maize meal to sustain food-vulnerable communities. 

Why maize meal? Wellman said: “It seems silly but maize meal is the cheapest and can sustain community members for longer periods. Also understanding the economy is bad and people’s budgets are much smaller for big donations.”

An amount of R52 can help secure 10kg of quality maize meal, but no donation is too small since it all goes a long way towards preventing hunger pangs and medical problems.

Many food security initiatives are already under way and in need of support. The idea is for all willing and capable South Africans to contribute to a food distribution network. DM/MC


"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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