Maverick Citizen

Food Justice

FOOD BASKET CHECK

How much food can you buy with the R350 grant? We go shopping

The essential food items the R350 Social Relief Distress grant could buy from a Johannesburg inner-city supermarket in April 2022. (Photo: Denvor de Wee)

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant has been helped families to eat. The grant has played a role in realisation of the right to food for about 11 million people and their dependents every month. But recent food price hikes and a rise in inflation raise concerns about how much food these people are able to buy.

In an ongoing project, Maverick Citizen is keeping track of what essential food items the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant recipients can buy as food prices head upwards.

Food prices in South Africa continue to soar every year owing to many factors, including inflation and rising fuel prices. The Russia-Ukraine war has added to the mix in 2022, shoving the price of food even higher.

Read in Daily Maverick: “South Africa’s cost-of-living crisis worsens as consumer inflation breaches the Reserve Bank’s 6% target

The latest study by the prestigious Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group on Household Affordability Index, points to this reality.

SRD grant food
The essential food items the R350 Social Relief Distress grant could buy from a Johannesburg inner-city supermarket in April 2022. (Photo: Denvor de Wee)
On 31 May 2022, the Social Distress Grant (SRD) grant could not afford the recipient everything in the essential food items list bought in the previous month as the prices of some food items increased. On the left is what the grant could afford a recipient on 31 May and on the right is what the grant couldn’t afford. (Photo: Denvor de Wee)

Over the past few months South Africa has been hit by fuel price increases every month, informed by international and local factors. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) published a hefty increase in the Brent Crude oil price for June, as the rise in oil prices has increased local fuel prices significantly. The cost of petrol rose to R23.94 a litre from R21.51 in May and is expected to increase again in July. 

Rising fuel costs pose a threat to the containment of food prices and the cost of living, which were already on the rise before the war.

But while food prices have been soaring, the R350 SRD grant hasn’t changed.

Maverick Citizen has been tracking what essential food items the grant will buy, and found that, essentially, grant recipients would be able to buy less with a sharp increase in items such as bread, salt, cooking oil and cabbage. Some other prices remained the same.

We prioritised grocery items that make up most of the staple diets of many living in South Africa. The items were all bought from a Johannesburg inner-city supermarket in April and May.

Maverick Citizen has aimed to buy the same food items every month. However, in May not everything on the list was bought due to the price increase on some items. Items marked with an asterisk were not bought in May because of the R350 budget limitation and prioritisation of more essential food items.

Civil society groups and community organisers have called for the adoption of  a Universal Basic Income Guarantee (UBIG) and the basic Covid grant to be permanent to address hunger and poverty in our country; however, it has not been agreed to by the government. 

Maverick Citizen will continue to track the price of these essential food items over the next few months. MC/DM

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