Accountability: Part of FoodForward SA’s Recipe/DNA
Author: FoodForward SA
Pakama, Edgar and Walliya have little in common. They have never enjoyed a meal at the same table, yet their lives are interwoven. Responsibility glues them together.
Edgar wakes up each morning at 06:00, to open the Joy Special Educare Centre for Disabled Children in Mitchells Plain. Among others, he ensures that his team starts preparing meals for the twenty children and their families who visit the centre each day.
Walliya is a single mother from Tafelsig in Mitchells Plain. One of her four children was born with Cerebral Palsy, leaving him dependent on a wheelchair. She gets up at 05:00 each morning to leave her son at the centre so that Edgar and his team can care for him while she works as a domestic worker in Table View.
A typical workday, for Pakama from Bothasig, starts at 06:00, when she gets in her car to visit at least five FoodForward SA beneficiary organisations a day. It is her responsibility to visit organisations like Joy Special Educare Centre to ensure that they comply with FoodForward SA’s membership criteria.
Pakama, Edgar and Walliya know little of one another, but they have one important thing in common. Quality surplus food is crucial to their daily existence. For Walliya, it provides the energy she needs to face the challenges of the day. It also provides the nutrients her son needs. For Edgar, the donated food helps him take care of the most vulnerable people in his community. For Pakama, it offers a fulfilling job that helps her take care of her loved ones.
“Like food for the body, responsibility nourishes relationships. Without it, millions of people suffer each day. When people and organisations are not accountable for their actions and don’t execute their responsibilities with due diligence, relationships break down,” says FoodForward SA Managing Director, Andy Du Plessis.
Strict governance, monitoring and evaluation criteria are at the core of FoodForward SA’s food banking model. The organisation which started in 2009 now serves 475,000 South Africans with nutritious surplus food each day, via its network of over 1,000 beneficiary organisations. The number of vulnerable and food-insecure people in South Africa has increased drastically since the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Africa earlier this year. And it is expected to increase even more. According to Statistics South Africa, South Africa’s unemployment rate increased by 7.5 percentage points to 30.8% in the third quarter of 2020.
“The need for food is growing daily and we will have to work even harder at raising funds that allow us to intercept quality surplus food from food supply chain role players and farmers before it ends up in landfills or gets incinerated,” says Du Plessis. The organisation collects quality edible surplus food and distributes it to registered and vetted beneficiary organisations that do important social upliftment work. More than 75% of their beneficiary organisations focus on education, skills development, youth development and health outcomes in vulnerable communities.
“In addition to addressing hunger, we are also committed to social upliftment in South Africa. It is, therefore, our responsibility to ensure that the food we distribute reaches the intended beneficiaries,” says Du Plessis. The process of onboarding new beneficiary organisations starts when registered non-profit organisations submit their online application via FoodForward SA’s website. After reviewing their application, FoodForward SA’s beneficiary organisation co-ordinator visits the organisation (unannounced) to conduct a physical vetting of their operations.
On World Food Day, 16 October 2020, Payne arrived at FoodForward SA’s warehouse in Cape Town, to receive food parcels prepared by volunteers from Engen. Each parcel included, among others, rice, milk, canned foods, maize meal, peanut butter and jam. “Our organisation became a member of FoodForward SA’s network because we have realised that the need for food and hunger within our community is extreme. Being an NPO, with our aim to serve the community and the children’s families, it would have been financially very difficult to run this project of feeding people without the support of FoodForward SA. The management of Joy Special Educare is extremely grateful for the collaboration between Joy Special Educare and FoodForward SA for providing our organisation with nutritional, value consumables in this dire time of need.”
“In most cases, the only meal the children receive for the day is at the centre,” says Payne. “Food plays a valuable role within our organisation and within our immediate community and the children’s families. Joy Special Educare distribute monthly food parcels to the families of the children and redistribute food parcels within the community because of the dire need for food and because of hunger within the community.