This month, we proudly celebrate the two-year anniversary of the launch of our very first Mobile Rural Depot (MRD). In June 2019, we undertook our maiden MRD trip to Worcester. This rural town in the beautiful Hex River Valley in the Western Cape was selected as the home of our first MRD, due to the high prevalence of stunting amongst under five-year-olds in the region.
Our Mobile Rural Depot (MRD) programme addresses the burgeoning problem of food insecurity in vulnerable rural communities. Traditionally, foodbanking is an urban solution to addressing hunger and is most-suited to the needs of beneficiary organisations (BOs) residing in urban or peri-urban settings where food supply chain role players operate. To help BOs in rural communities that cannot afford to travel to urban-based warehouses for food collections, FoodForward SA devised its MRD programme that take nutritious food into rural communities.
When we launched the first MRD in Worcester, we served five BOs. As of June 2021, our Worcester MRD works with 18 BOs that reach over 8,000 vulnerable people from Worcester and the surrounding Breede River Valley region.
Each month, our new 17-ton truck undertakes the one-and-a-half hour-long trip via the N1 to a destination at a central spot (the ‘mobile depot’) in Worcester. BOs that are part of this MRD are informed beforehand of the date and time of the truck’s arrival. Once the truck arrives, our truck driver, accompanied by another staff member, start to distribute the pallets of food, one by one, to the respective BOs.
Through our Worcester MRD, we are reaching at-risk youth, persons receiving palliative care, persons with visual and hearing impairments, pre-school children, the elderly, as well as indigent people. We are grateful for the support of Rudolph Roscher, who encouraged many of our Worcester BOs to apply for membership of our MRD programme and who is still supportive of the initiative.
With the launch of our most recent MRDs in May (Thohoyandou in Limpopo and Ladysmith in the Free State), FoodForward SA now operates 16 MRDs that collectively reach just over 77,000 rural beneficiaries.
Our MRD programme cannot operate without the support of our fuel sponsor, Engen. Thank you, Engen, for your valued partnership! We are also indebted to PepsiCo (with funding made possible by The Global Foodbanking Network) as well as Unitrans, the Department of Social Development and Lancaster Foundation that have donated some of the refrigerated trucks in our fleet.