When we launched our five-year strategic plan in April 2019, Managing Director Andy Du Plessis announced his ambitious goal of reaching 1 million beneficiaries daily. What seemed an almost unattainable goal at the time, is fast becoming a reality, with the devastating Covid-19 pandemic creating the catalyst for our ‘rapid’ scaling project. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and partners, and with the incredible support of the staff at our National Office and seven branches, we have been able to stay on course.
Having expanded our food distribution footprint across all nine provinces in 2020, in July 2021 we opened our sixth branch – in Polokwane, Limpopo. Through this branch we currently serve 100 registered and vetted beneficiary organisations (BOs), enabling us to reach just under 18,000 vulnerable beneficiaries in this province. More than two-thirds of the BOs our Limpopo branch reaches are organisations caring for children (including ECDs and OVCs). Our Limpopo branch, via our Mobile Rural Depot (MRD) programme, also serves rural beneficiaries residing in communities surrounding Tzaneen and Thohoyandou.
Food distribution at our branch in Polokwane, Limpopo
On 20 September 2021, we launched our seventh branch, in Bloemfontein, Free State. Through this branch, we are reaching around 19,000 beneficiaries, through a network of 42 BOs. More than half of these BOs are organisations caring for children.
Launch of FoodForward SA’s seventh branch in Bloemfontein, Free State
As a result of the July civil unrest, our Durban branch was forced to move to temporary premises. The warehouse in Pinetown has become the permanent home of our Durban branch as it is more than twice the size and will be able to handle the increased food distribution requirements necessitated by the significant growth in beneficiary numbers seen this year. Our Johannesburg team has also moved to much larger premises in Isando, to accommodate increased beneficiary numbers in Gauteng.
Mobile Rural Depot programme
Over the last year our Mobile Rural Depot (MRD) programme has expanded rapidly. The MRD programme contributes to addressing food insecurity in the most poverty-stricken rural districts across South Africa.
In November we launched our newest MRD, in Taung, North-West Province. We now operate 27 MRDs, across all provinces (except Gauteng), reaching approximately 150,000 vulnerable rural people through this strategic programme.
Food distribution in Taung, North-West
Household Food Security Programme
As part of our integrated food security strategy, FoodForward SA’s recently established the Household Food Security Programme, to ensure that nutritious food parcels are provided to vulnerable households. The target recipients for the programme include children suffering from malnutrition, food-insecure pregnant and nursing mothers, orphans and vulnerable children, child-headed households and individuals suffering from chronic illness including HIV/AIDS. We are currently distributing over 2,000 food parcels to vulnerable individuals per month, with this number expecting to rise considerably in the coming months.
Each food parcel contains quality donated surplus food which includes fresh fruit and vegetables, supplemented with procured groceries where necessary. Our growing partnership with OneFarm Share (an initiative of Standard Bank), has been a game-changer in the amount and variety of surplus produce we provide our beneficiaries.
Food parcel in the home of a vulnerable recipient
Supply Chain Youth Internship Programme
We have trained 31 unemployed youth since the launch of our TETA-accredited Youth Internship programme in 2019. Of these, six have been absorbed into permanent employment at FFSA. Of the 15 interns who have recently completed their training, a few will be absorbed into our business, in accordance with our rapid scaling plan.
Sanelisiwe Copiso was part of the first cohort of interns and is now warehouse supervisor at our Gqeberha branch.
Our network currently stands at 1,850 vetted beneficiary organisations, which enables us to reach just over 700,000 beneficiaries, across South Africa. We have distributed 8,500 tons of food (equivalent to 34 million meals) so far this year and our target for the financial year is 12,000 tons (48 million meals). We are confident we will reach this target.
Sustainable Development Goals
We are indebted to our donors and partners for helping us work towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Through our integrated food security strategy, we are not only feeding vulnerable people – the recovery of surplus food reduces food waste by diverting quality surplus food away from landfill, thus having a positive effect on the environment.