How Food is a Catalyst for Social Change: A focus on our beneficiary organisations’ empowering communities

FoodForward SA currently serves a growing network of 560 beneficiary organisations (BOs). More than 75% of our BOs are doing work in the development sector, focusing on education, skills development, rehabilitation, orphans and vulnerable children, care for abused women, the aged, the disabled, and at risk youth. Below are just two examples of organisations doing amazing work in their respective communities, and the food provided by FoodForward SA demonstrates that our foodbanking model is a vital catalyst for social change:

The Etafeni Day Care Centre Trust, is situated in Nyanga, one of the most impoverished communities in the Cape metropole. Despite a reputation for having high rates of unemployment, HIV/AIDS and crime, Nyanga is slowly transforming through the tireless efforts of individuals and organisations such as the Etafeni Centre. It is a safe haven which offers the community opportunities for education, skills development and upliftment. With its offering of 12 different programmes, the Etafeni Centre is always bustling and provides a beautiful, calming space for vulnerable people from the Nyanga community. The newly appointed Etafeni Director, Zandile Siwali, loves her job. Her office is adjacent to the ECD. Says Zandile, “When I walk down the passage and hear the beautiful children’s voices, that’s the noise I hear eight hours a day and it makes my day. And when I hear them doing their ABCs and counting, I know I want to be here”. Each of the Etafeni programmes, which targets pre-schoolers, schoolchildren, teenagers, job-seeking youth, unemployed women and pregnant mothers, has a nutrition component, with the centre aiming to provide all their beneficiaries with a wholesome meal. The pre-schoolers receive breakfast and lunch with in-between nutritious snacks. The centre provides about 1,000 meals per month and they provide meals to everyone who attends their programmes. As Zandile puts it: ”We cannot assume they have eaten when they get here.” For the programme with young mothers, where they teach them, amongst other things the importance of breastfeeding, Zandile says that is very important they see to it that these young women receive nutritious meals. “That’s why the partnership with FoodForward SA is so important, because each of the programmes has a nutrition component. Zandile says that she has noticed there has been a significant decrease in their grocery bill, which she attributes to the partnership with FoodForward SA.” According to Phumza, Etafeni’s well-loved kitchen manager, the savings has been thousands of rands. It is also because of the partnership that we have been able to offer these nutrition programmes.” Through the FoodForward SA Second Harvest programme, they also get fruits and vegetables. Phumza ensures that the children receive fruit during snack time.

At one point they received so many tins of tomato and onion, but Phumza appreciated this, as the product is very versatile and she is able to use is for gravies, sauces and stews.  Phumza also loves the FoodForward SA-labelled tomato jam, and uses this on sandwiches.

The Sozo Foundation is a non-profit organisation situated in Vrygrond, near Lavender Hill, an impoverished community on the Cape Flats. Sozo was established to create opportunities for holistic development to see the people of Vrygrond equipped and empowered to live with dignity, purpose, and hope. Their three key areas of focus are: Education (after-school tutoring and mentorship programme for high school learners), Youth skills development (including barrister and beauty training programmes), and Enterprise Development (they have their own bakery on site).

Wendy Abrahams, Programme Manager for the education programme at Sozo, explains that “Sozo is really a place of opportunity. This is exemplified by Sozo’s vision, ‘transformation through love’. We want to love you unconditionally and see you transform. This is what we want for our young people who come through our doors.”

FoodForward SA has been providing Sozo Foundation with good quality, nutritious, surplus food since 2014. They receive food daily via our digital platform, FoodShare, where they are linked to their local Food Lover’s Market. Through FoodShare they receive quality surplus bakery products daily, along with fresh produce. One of Sozo’s pillars is the belief that “Learning on an empty stomach is impossible” and that is the reason Sozo provides their students with a nutritious meal every day. As Wendy, explains, “The bakery goods which Sozo receives from Food Lover’s Market is so beneficial and an indispensable component of the programme for our high school learners attending the aftercare school programme. The children come from 17 different schools, even as far as Sea Point, but they are all Vrygrond residents. The programme provides a safe space for children, and keeps them off the streets, where they may become susceptible to gang recruitment. Upon arrival, they receive sandwiches and / or paninis, then some motivational exercise before they do their homework or start their tutoring sessions.

Sozo also receives mostly non-perishable surplus food from FoodForward SA once a month from our warehouse. “Since our partnership with FoodForward SA started in 2014 we hardly ever have to buy certain staples and canned goods, as the warehouse food basket provides plenty of these. Without FoodForward SA, our monthly grocery bill will easily exceed R20,000. Because of the partnership with FoodForward SA, we save up to 50% on our monthly bill.  We use the surplus food as an incentive for vulnerable people to join, and complete our various skills programmes, which ultimately benefits our community.”