The juxtaposition between the rich and poor in South Africa is abysmal. The World Bank lists South Africa as the most unequal society in the world. The report found that more than half of South Africans, 30 million people, live below the national poverty line of R992 per month. Our extremely polarised labour market results in huge wage inequalities, and the groups worst affected by poverty are children, black South Africans, the unemployed, female-headed households, and those who are less educated and have no skills.
Former president Nelson Mandela befittingly said: “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. To impose on them a wretched life of hunger & deprivation is to dehumanise them.” We have to do better as a country.
The good news is that we can all do our part to help bridge the inequality gap. And thankfully, many already are by supporting causes that address social problems. While it will take decades to redress our current economic and social dilemma – and only if there is strong political will accompanied by decisive action, we can all make a difference.
One of the areas where we see progress that is successfully bridging the inequality gap is our support to beneficiary organisations that focus on children, education and training, skills development for youth, and the protection and advancement of women. Poverty has a very specific special dimension as it is concentrated in mostly previously disadvantaged areas. Therein lies an opportunity – one that FoodForward SA is taking advantage of as part of our growth strategy.
Within our network of nearly 600 beneficiary organisations that feed 280,000 people daily, there is a very hungry and captive audience. Around 75% of our beneficiary organisations use the surplus food that we provide as an incentive for children to either join an early learning centre, for adults to remain in a rehab programme, or for teachers, youth or women to complete a skills development course. This is in addition to the significant savings that these beneficiary organisations enjoy on their monthly grocery bills, thanks to the food we provide. These savings are converted into direct investment – such as hiring more teachers, upskilling teachers, purchasing educational materials and resources, and allowing them to build more capacity to serve more people. By doing so we are bridging the inequality gap in poor communities. If the good quality surplus food we provide to such organisations can positively affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, just think how many lives we can change if we reached thousands of organisations!
The World Health Organisation’s October 2019 report notes that “the right investment in nutrition-directed initiatives could save 3,7 million lives by 2025″. We must start by making sure that vulnerable people have access to good quality food. Our Foodbanking model is the most cost-effective method to achieve this objective. Once people have eaten a meal and are nourished, they will have hope, they will have the strength to learn, focus on upskilling themselves, and be determined and inspired to go out and look for work.
FoodForward SA has the resources and network capacity to reach even more people in disadvantaged communities, including distant rural communities. With your help we can fill the gap of hunger using good quality edible surplus food, and together we can bridge the social inequality gap one meal at a time. Join the food recovery revolution.