Chefs with Compassion appeals for a little more kindness
They’ve dished over 5 million meals to the famished since the start of the pandemic, supported by a network of volunteers, corporate donations and food rescue organisations, and now, Chefs with Compassion need a little love, as their funding has come under pressure.
This comes at a time when the queues for sustenance know no end. About 10.3 million tons of food go to waste every year in South Africa, which is more than enough to feed every hungry person in the country, (and there are many: about 20 million or so.) The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) says that equates to 34.3% of local production, and 45% of the available food supply in the country being lost or wasted. Most of SA’s losses and waste (49%) are incurred in the processing and packaging stage of the value chain.
It is Chefs with Compassion’s mission to rescue and redirect as much of this good food as possible.
The Chefs’ 30 kitchen hubs have served millions of nutritious meals to food-vulnerable communities in SA since the very first Covid lockdown, by rescuing edible food that would otherwise have gone to waste. It’s all been possible through the help of volunteers, about 30 organisations, and corporate donations.
With funding drying up, the non-profit has now launched a crowdfunding campaign, appealing for help from the private sector to continue doing its good work.
Driven by chefs from the start, Chefs with Compassion was established by Hanneke Van Linge of Nosh Food Rescue, a non-profit aimed at reducing food insecurity, Chef Philippe Frydman and Matthew Abraham of Thava Indian Restaurant in Norwood, and Slow Food International’s Caroline McCann (who many Joburgers got to know and love through her Braeside Meat Market in Parkhurst).
In a statement, Chefs chairman James Khoza said with the help of their funding partners from the corporate sector who supported their mission from the start, they have been able to operate since the pandemic. “However, our resources are running dry and additional sponsors are needed for Chefs with Compassion to continue this essential work moving forward.”
Executive chef of the Marriot at OR Tambo Airport in Ekurhuleni, Coo (Coovashan) Pillay, tells Maverick Food that their mission is to decrease the amount of food that gets into the landfill and make people more food secure.
“We’ve got two major problems in the country where we’ve got close to 100 million tonnes of produce that goes to waste on a yearly basis, but you have almost 20 million people who do not have access to food in this country – that’s almost a third of our population. That’s what our mission is, together with all the other organisations that are doing such wonderful work out there,” says Pillay.
The Chefs bring their rescued food into their facilities, where their team of chefs produce nutritious meals. Unfortunately, the reality is that it is a costly exercise. “You can just imagine the logistics of just getting the produce from the various sources of farms, production manufacturers, retailers, the markets, to our share house, which has its own costs such as rental and utilities.”
That’s beside the increasing fuel price and the effects of rolling blackouts, which have pushed their costs even higher because fridges need to keep running – requiring generators – to keep their food safe.
“This is why we are making an appeal to everyday South Africans and corporate South Africa, to assist us to cover these costs,” Pillay adds.
For the past three Mandela Days, chefs, culinary schools, home cooks, and caterers have spent 67 minutes preparing food for the needy, resulting in a total of more than 980,000 cups of soup being served. The #67000litres campaign is Chefs with Compassion’s biggest fundraising drive of the year.
The Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market and Shoprite Checkers, through the Chefs’ Nosh rescue partner, have been their most generous supporters, with some project-based help from food producers, although what the chefs need right now is more financial assistance, to pay for their overheads.
Pillay, who is also an active member of the South African Chefs Association, says when the call came for chefs to help back in May 2020, he responded “without hesitation, I wanted to do something”.
“This is why I’m so proud of what Chefs with Compassion has achieved, from such humble beginnings, because when we started we didn’t know the impact that we were going to have. And now that we’ve reached such a massive milestone by producing over 5 million meals in such a short space of time, you know there’s definitely a need for us. There’s definitely a service that we need to provide to those communities.” DM/TGIFood
To help Chefs with Compassion and its network continue doing their work, see their crowdfunding campaign on Givengain https://bit.ly/cwc-50000meals.
Members of the public who would like to support them can do so via their website at https://cwc.org.za/donate or via EFT to Chefs with Compassion, FNB account number 62852995269. Once-off donations can also be made through the Givengain crowdfunding campaign at https://bit.ly/cwc-50000meals.
For more information on how to get involved or support Chefs with Compassion, email [email protected].