Millions of vulnerable people have had to endure protracted hardship since Covid-19 was unceremoniously unleashed across South Africa more than a year ago. Sadly, this tremendous hardship will continue at least for the foreseeable future because of the devastating impact of the pandemic on our economy. Unemployment is at an all time high, and as we enter level 4 lock down for the next few weeks, millions more will lose their ability to earn an income.
Getting food to those who are food insecure is critical to avoid people, especially our children, from becoming malnourished, developing weak immune systems, becoming despondent, and losing all hope. It was for this reason that our board decided to scale up rapidly.
In the past year, we went from operating in 5 provinces to serving vulnerable people in all 9 provinces. Within a year we managed to distribute 7,215 tons of food, equating to 29 million meals. We increased the number of registered beneficiary organisations in our network from 673 to 1,250. The number of vulnerable people reached daily grew from 225,000 to 675,000 served daily. Our Mobile Rural Depot programme increased from providing food to 6 vulnerable communities to 19. We will continue to identify the most vulnerable communities in the poorest municipalities, so that we reach as many desperate people as possible with nutritious food.
We are also very excited to announce that we are opening a new warehouse (physical branch) in the Limpopo Province (Polokwane) in July, and a new warehouse (also a physical branch) in the Free State (Bloemfontein) in August – because of the growing need in these poverty-stricken regions. This is all thanks to you!
In spite of the fact that our model is largely dependent on recovering good quality surplus food donations, it is encouraging to see the percentage of nutritious food that we distribute to our beneficiary organisations (BOs) has increased significantly – from 80% to more than 95%. This is thanks to our generous food donors, most notably Standard Bank’s OneFarmShare; Premier Foods; Tiger Brands; Kellogg’s; PnP / Feed the Nation; Nestle; Pioneer; and Danone. Your support and partnership in addressing food insecurity across South Africa is vital and greatly appreciated.
I am also delighted to announce that FoodForward SA is in the process of rolling out FoodShare in all of Woolworths 400 plus stores nationally. FoodShare is our very own digital platform that virtually connects our network of beneficiary organisations to retail stores for the regular collection of quality surplus food. The partnership with Woolworths will result in greater access to good quality food across a broad spectrum of vulnerable communities.
Our ability to respond rapidly and appropriately to the devastation caused by the pandemic was made possible by the various financial donations from caring donors. Thank you all for your generosity and for caring enough to make a difference. When looking at the results of the Social Return on Investment (SROI) study done by Impact Amplifier regarding the social impact of our work, every R1 donated to FoodForward SA generates R98 worth of SROI, so you are guaranteed that your financial contributions are indeed changing lives and communities. Thank you.
Given the scale of what lies ahead in terms of our recovery, coupled with the uncertainty, we continue to rely on partnerships as we navigate these very turbulent times, making sure that we achieve better access to nutritious food for those who need it.
Andy Du Plessis