COVID-19 – HUMANITY WILL OVERCOME CALAMITY

Someone said once that crisis does not create character – it reveals it. We are undoubtedly in the midst of a crisis and we will be for a while to come. How we respond to this crisis as individuals will say much about who we are – our humanity.

Since the start of the lock down, our staff has been working at full capacity, to make sure that we step up to the plate, and do what’s necessary to make sure that we get food provisions to vulnerable households. While they are keenly aware of the health risk to themselves and their families, they show up for work every day because they know that they are making a real difference. Without their dedication and commitment, food insecure households will not get the good nutrition we prepare with love and care every day.

I also think that it is fair to say that, because of the regular provision of food to vulnerable communities through organisations like FoodForward SA and thousands more, we have managed, to some degree, to reduce the spread of civil unrest in under-served communities because of their growing frustration around food insecurity.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership has been impressive in the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, his leadership and stimulus package, could mask delivery inadequacies from various departments down the line, and may not reach the intended beneficiaries and businesses broadly.

Food insecurity is growing, along with the anxiety and frustration of people who are not able to access basic food because they have lost their income. Millions of children that received a meal at a creche or school before the lock down are not able to access food. We are seeing the beginnings of a health crisis colliding with a food security crisis.

In the midst of this calamity, we are witnessing the most amazing displays of human kindness and generosity across the country. Restaurants opening so that they can prepare meals; neighbourhoods and families rallying to make up food parcels; farmers donating fresh produce; people offering to buy groceries for older persons and the frail, and the list continues.

We are grateful for the growing support towards our R50mn COVID-19 Appeal. In 5 weeks we have raised, R26mn, just over 50% of our appeal. Individuals, corporates and foundations alike have rallied behind FoodForward SA’s appeal to scale up so that we can reach more vulnerable households across South Africa. Caring people realise that they can’t do much during the lock down but they can give so that, together, we can execute the mission of feeding those left vulnerable because of the lock down.

Because of caring donors, FoodForward SA is able to respond more rapidly. We have distributed food to more than 100,000 households reaching 700,000 people. In the coming weeks we aim to prepare 150,000 and 250,000 food parcels each month, reaching over 1 million vulnerable people. We have also increased the number of beneficiary organisations in our network to 1,005, and they in turn collectively reach more than 400,000 vulnerable people so that we can provide food parcels that will benefit 2 million people.

I am also delighted that we preparing to provide food support to the people in the Limpopo Province shortly. Limpopo is one of the poorest regions and people there are desperately in need of food support. Extending our reach into this province will also allow us access to huge amounts of surplus fresh produce from the agri sector, allowing us to feed more people with nutritious food.

Like we have seen with the water crisis a few years back, South Africa’s humanity is stronger than the calamity we face. We are robust. It is not in our nature as South Africans to give up. We stand together because what unites us is stronger than that which divides us. We will overcome – even this.

Andy Du Plessis: Managing Director