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HUNGER CRISIS FOOD FUND

Generous Daily Maverick readers donate over R2m to bring relief to vulnerable families

Generous Daily Maverick readers donate over R2m to bring relief to vulnerable families
A six-year-old boy carries a bag of onions and apples donated by SA Harvest in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, on 21 December 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

Daily Maverick readers have donated more than R2m to the Hunger Crisis Food Fund, which provides food parcels to vulnerable and desperate families. It hopes to have helped 1,000 families by 9 January.

Since the first delivery of food parcels just before Christmas to Lusikisiki, Daily Maverick readers have donated another R600,000 to support our joint project with SA Harvest to help some of South Africa’s most vulnerable families.

This means another 600 families can receive a food parcel valued at R1,000 that will last six people for two months.

SA Harvest team leader Ozzy Nel said on Friday that they had delivered 18 tonnes of food to 360 families. More families who asked for help were added to the database and will receive food parcels in the new year. He said the aim is to have helped 1,000 families with food by 9 January.

On 22 December, there were scenes of joy in the Xurana Administrative Area near Lusikisiki where the food distribution programme kicked off when hundreds of families were helped with food parcels to last them through the festive season. The team worked for three days to ensure that families in crisis had food for Christmas. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Relief for desperate families as your generous donations bring hope to poverty-stricken Lusikisiki

Food aid at this time of the year is vital because children no longer receive daily meals at school where the nutrition schemes are closed for the holidays.   

Watch here: Take action to alleviate hunger: Daily Maverick holiday appeal

The food parcels are given to families that are headed by a child or an unemployed person, and to large families dependent on social grants to survive.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Seven children starve to death, others fight for their lives while malnutrition ravages Eastern Cape

Mamphumisa Nyosi carrying a bag of rice in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, on 21 December 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

Zoliswa Bushula (31) and her two children walking back home with their food parcels donated by SA Harvest in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, on 21 December 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

Noloyiso Ngqala (51) pushing a wheelbarrow of food from SA Harvest in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, on 21 December 2023. (Photo: Hoseya Jubase)

In a report in October, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) described the hunger situation in the Eastern Cape as follows: 

“The Eastern Cape, with its unique blend of cultures and landscapes, is facing a crisis that threatens the health and future of its children. Child malnutrition is not just a health concern; it is a fundamental violation of the rights and well-being of the most vulnerable members of our society.

“The Eastern Cape’s children are its future, and their health and nutrition are inextricably linked to the province’s development and progress. Ensuring their well-being is both a constitutional and moral imperative and a crucial step towards building a more equitable and prosperous Eastern Cape.”

The SAHRC said the hunger crisis should be declared an emergency under disaster management legislation. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Child malnutrition in the Eastern Cape ‘qualifies as a disaster’

“Child malnutrition is not just a statistic; it is a pressing reality affecting the lives and futures of Eastern Cape’s children. This report is a clarion call to action and an opportunity to effect meaningful change,” the SAHRC said.  

One in five South African households is food insecure — they do not know where their next meal will come from or when. The Eastern Cape, where almost one in three (32%) households is food insecure, is the worst affected. 

The SAHRC found that one in four children in the province is stunted due to malnutrition. 

Between 2021 and 2022, at least 1,000 children in the province were diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, with 120 dying as a result. In a country of plenty, it is unthinkable that children are dying of hunger.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Too corrupt to feed starving children: Is this freedom?

According to the Eastern Cape Health Department, between September 2022 and August 2023, there were 456 new cases of severe acute malnutrition in children under five with 91 deaths — in the OR Tambo District Municipality alone. This is where Lusikisiki is located. 

The SA Harvest team is also looking after the survivor of a family murder in the area that was ostensibly triggered by a mother’s struggle against unrelenting poverty and hunger.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Desperately poor Eastern Cape mom kills herself and three of her four children 

SA Harvest’s founder and CEO, Alan Browde, said on Friday that Daily Maverick readers had donated R2.018-million to the initiative so far. DM

Read more about how you can make a difference here.

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