Three months after launching in the Western Cape, FoodForward SA (FFSA) is adjusting the scope of its Food Parcel Programme and expanding it nationally, to reach even more vulnerable families left destitute because of the pandemic.

Launched in January 2021, the pilot initiative was aimed at helping patients with compromised immunity, and their families who depend on them, access nutritious food. It enabled FFSA to deliver 800 food parcels per month to the homes of patients that the Western Cape Department of Health identified as requiring additional nutritional support. Each food parcel contains enough non-perishable grocery items, staple food products as well as fresh vegetables to feed a family of four to six people for a period of two to four weeks.

Because of the national expansion of FoodForward SA’s Food Parcel Programme, each month, a total of 1800 food parcels are now delivered to the homes of vulnerable people who are unable to visit FFSA’s beneficiary organisations to access food, as well as people suffering from amongst others, Covid-19, TB, HIV/Aids and other acute and chronic illnesses. A total of 10,800 people now benefit from the programme each month.

“Amplifying our efforts, to reach our most vulnerable people, is critical, especially now,” says Andy Du Plessis, FoodForward SA’s managing director. “So many people are still waiting on their R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grants. In the coming months, food insecurity will rise. The cost of food is increasing and each year, during Winter, more people are struggling to find work. And to make things worse, a third Covid-19 wave, during the time of the year that people tend to get sick, could be devastating to many families.”

“For vulnerable people, especially those who can’t work due to illness, government grants, although insufficient, are essential,” says Du Plessis. According to the human rights organisation Black Sash, for about 6.9 million people, the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant is their only means of putting some food on their table.

To enable additional support in the Western Cape and to distribute food parcels to families across the country, FoodForward SA is working with 22 of its beneficiary organisations that offer health care support and other essential services and that have a social – or health care worker available who can identify and monitor qualifying recipients. These BOs are national in scope and include, amongst others, non-governmental health care facilities, frail care centres, shelters and community feeding centres in the Western -, Northern – and Eastern Cape as well as Kwa-Zulu Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo, the Free State and the North West.

Each parcel FoodForward SA provides to beneficiaries of its Food Parcel Programme weighs on average 20kg. The total tonnage of 36,000 kg of food can enable 144,000 meals per month.

The programme has received financial support from Pick n Pay’s Feed the Nation Foundation as well as The Global Foodbanking Network (GFN). To provide added nutrition to the food parcels, FFSA also uses food donations from Standard Bank’s OneFarm Share initiative.