South Africa recently commemorated Human Rights Day, and will shortly celebrate 25 years of democracy on April 27th. “Celebrate” seems an ironic word choice when at the very basic level – the right to adequate nutritious food – in our 25th year of freedom, we see the most unjust prevalence of food poverty, severe hunger, and a growing incidence of child malnutrition, because millions of people do not have the means to access food on a regular basis.
What’s equally untenable is the food inequity gap, what’s called “hidden hunger” – where although people are eating at least once a day, they and their communities lack access to a full variety of good quality nutritious food, leaving them undernourished, increasing their vulnerability to disease and limiting their ability to function optimally as productive citizens.
Thanks to the work done by FoodForward South Africa since 2009, the right to good quality food has been extended to more of the people who can least afford it. In just 10 years FoodForward SA recovered enough food from the supply chain to prepare 154,000,000 meals, of which 80% constituted nutritious food in the past year.
Yet, in a country where half of our population is either food insecure or at risk, much more needs to be done to ensure broader access to good quality food. We firmly believe that the globally practiced foodbanking model is a viable and necessary strategy in supplementing existing food programmes. We also believe that foodbanking is the most cost-effective of these interventions, while also being a green solution.
We were pleased to have this confirmed when we participated in the Global Foodbanking Network (GFN)’s FoodBanking Leadership Institute in London toward the end of March. There, we were able to share learnings and best practices with our peers from other foodbanks across the globe, and hear from retailers, donors and other partners in the space.
We were also delighted and encouraged by the announcement that we are one of the recipients of a GFN Challenge Grant – made possible by a generous contribution from the General Mills Foundation and the PIMCO Foundation. The grant aims to help food banks across the world strengthen our contributions to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2, which is to eliminate global hunger by 2030.
In the 2018 – 2019 financial year we were able to recover enough food to prepare over 18,700,000 million meals, at a cost of R0,90 per meal. Five years ago, that figure was R1,73. We have successfully driven costs down by implementing the following approaches:
- FoodShare: A digital solution that virtually connects beneficiary organisations to retail stores and food outlets for the regular collection of surplus food
- Second Harvest: We connect directly with farmers across the country, and collect their bulk fruit and vegetable surplus while they harvest
- Casting the net wider in terms of sourcing food donor partners. This includes establishing partnership with large manufacturers, various food-related associations such as the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, and various farmer and other associations
We are also expanding our food support to rural-based beneficiary organisations. So far, 25 rural areas across the country have been identified. This is an exciting development that will see much-needed nutritious food reaching the rural poor.
With this solid foundation to work from, we have set the goal to reach 1 million people daily across a network of 2,000 beneficiary organisations in five years.
The plan is an ambitious one, but we are confident that it is achievable thanks to the viability and efficiency of our foodbanking model and the support of our numerous partners.
We are grateful to our various financial and food partners that enable us to do what we do. We look forward to working with all of you as we scale to reach more vulnerable people.
As Crispin Sonn, FoodForward SA’s Chairman and founding member explains “It remains the vision of FoodForward SA to realise a South Africa without hunger. However, this vision still remains an aspiration which will require a great deal of effort from many partners. With your help we can achieve hunger relief at scale.”
Andy Du Plessis
Managing Director, FoodForward SA