Food relief drive reaches thousands in need

A collaboration between Symphonia for South Africa, FoodForward SA and the Solidarity Fund has seen around 8,000 food parcels distributed to over 30,000 people across several provinces in South Africa during the lockdown period

Since the lockdown was declared in March, Symphonia for SA has worked with a number of other organisations to tackle South Africa’s food security challenge. Through its Food 4 Hungry Children project, Symphonia for SA has obtained and captured data on the food needs of learners and their families from its network of over 1,000 school principals.

FoodForward SA, which reduces hunger in South Africa by recovering quality surplus food and distributing it to community organisations, has scaled up its operations during the lockdown to reach millions of at-risk households in vulnerable communities across the country.

The Solidarity Fund was created as a vehicle to help meet critical needs that have arisen as a result of the COVID-related restrictions imposed. Via this fund, organisations and individuals can support health, humanitarian and food relief efforts anywhere in South Africa.

Principals shine as community leaders

Many learners and their families who are part of the PfP network in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape, the North West province and the Eastern Cape have received food parcels as a result of this collaboration.

Eureka Primary in Elsiesriver, Cape Town received 100 food parcels for the neediest of its 771 learners.

Principal Cordelia Jacobs, who led the process, said: ‘’We feed 300 learners twice a week through the National School Nutrition Programme during the school term. It’s not expected of the school to feed learners during school holidays.

But I felt that the lockdown was different. Many parents had lost their income which means they couldn’t buy food.’’

Recognising the crisis this created, she sprang into action.

‘’I started finding volunteers to help with the distribution. I got 10 ‘volunteer mums’, two teachers and the local pastor to each help identify 20 needy families in the areas surrounding the school.

We ended up using my own car and three bakkies to pick up the parcels from the warehouse. The volunteers also used the transport that they arranged to deliver right to the homes of the learners.

It was a hectic day. It was also risky because the areas we were distributing in experience gang activity. But I had excellent volunteers assisting me.’’

Jacobs added that she had been inundated with calls and messages since the day of the distribution.

‘’The recipients were grateful for the food. It was sad that we could not feed everyone, but it was so good to see the community sharing the parcels and offering to cook for one another.’’

The principal of Emzomncane Primary, Thembisa Mdyogolo, led the distribution of 500 food parcels to the school’s learners and their families.

While she admits that the first day of distribution was “a little chaotic’’, the involvement of various community representatives ensured the process was carried out without any major glitches.

‘’We were lucky to have the ward councillor and the parents from our school governing body, teachers and non-teaching staff help on the day.’’

Mdyogolo pointed out that the local police also played an instrumental role.

‘’Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, the metro where the school is located, is classified as a Coronavirus hotspot. We have many unemployed parents from the school and the community who are desperate to feed their families.

The local community policing forum really helped us keep things calm and compliant.’’

As at Emzomncane Primary, Mshwati Memorial Primary’s principal had many helping hands from the community, including youth from the PfP-affiliated Youth@worK employment placement agency.

Principal Bizie Magwaza said: ‘’We had several youths who packaged and distributed the food parcels, as well as help from the local ward councillor and the police.

The parents who received food were very grateful and excited because they didn’t expect the principal to organise this.

It was all possible because of Symphonia!’’

Mshwati Memorial Primary School, which is located in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal, received a total of 138 food parcels.

Other KwaZulu-Natal primary schools that gratefully took delivery of food parcels were Kranskloof, Qhubakahle, Umngeni, Solomon Mahlangu, Ottawa, Bhekilanga and Christopher Nxumalo Senior Primary.

In the Eastern Cape, food parcels were made available to Enqileni Senior Primary and Sapphire Road Primary, while Nkagisang Primary and Pelogale Primary were the two North West province recipients.

The Western Cape beneficiaries were the Ikhaya Le Themba After School Care Centre, Mfuleni Development Centre and the following primary schools: Rosewood, Marconi Beam, Reygersdal, Grosvenor and Klipfontein Methodist.

30 November -1, 00:00