A pilot initiative between FoodForward SA, Feed the Nation Foundation and the Western Cape Department of Health was launched on Friday, 29 January, which will identify and expedite food support to patients with compromised immunity who have lost their ability to earn an income.

“Through a standardised referral system, selected nurses and dietitians will identify food-insecure patients and send a daily list to the Western Cape Department of Health. This list will be collated and sent to FoodForward SA once a week,” says FoodForward SA Managing Director, Andy Du Plessis. 

“Feed the Nation Foundation will provide 100 food hampers a week, which will be packed by 
Pick n Pay and Boxer stores and distributed directly to patients’ homes by FoodForward SA. This much-needed programme will support individuals and families, reinstating dignity and well-being during the challenging times of the COVID 19 pandemic.” 

Dr Keith Cloete, head of the Western Cape Health Department, said, “FoodForward SA and Feed the Nation Foundation’s much-needed support will not only bring relief to thousands of families; it will also provide significant relief to frontline healthcare workers to know their patients are receiving the critical food support needed to build their immune systems.”

Suzanne Ackerman, Director of Transformation at Pick n Pay and trustee of the Feed the Nation Foundation, commented, “the focus will primarily be on those affected by the Covid-19 virus. However, food assistance will also be given to patients suffering with HIV/Aids and other chronic illnesses who are food insecure.” 

“Nurses and dietitians at public health facilities around the province are in daily contact with patients, which makes them ideally placed to identify where the most critical nutritional needs are. Having quick access to this information will enable us to deliver food assistance in the fastest possible time.”

The food hampers include maize meal, flour, rice, long-life milk, canned food, lentils/peas, soya mince, peanut butter, jam, sugar, cooking oil and other basic non-perishable items. FoodForward SA will supplement the hampers with additional food products, fresh fruit and vegetables. 

The combined effort will result in a total of 1,200 families or 7,200 people accessing nutritious food. Each food parcel will feed four to six people and offers each person one nutritious meal a day for four weeks. Some of the outcomes the pilot project hopes to achieve include improved access to food in vulnerable communities, access to a greater variety of nutritious foods and healthier populations in low socio-economic communities. 

FoodForward SA recovers quality surplus food from food supply-chain partners and redirects it to a network of over 1,000 registered beneficiary organisations that perform important human development and social upliftment work. In 2020, FoodForward SA, distributed food equivalent to 26-million meals to vulnerable communities across South Africa.

In what started out as the Feed the Nation campaign, and partnering with funders, Pick n Pay customers, suppliers and welfare organisations, Feed the Nation Foundation has provided almost 28-million meals since lockdown began in March 2020.  Over the festive period alone, FoodForward SA distributed two million meals to people in need through a partnership with Pick n Pay, Feed the Nation Foundation and Mastercard. This collective effort has not only helped feed schoolchildren, but also vulnerable people living in shelters, aged care facilities, orphanages and under-served communities experiencing severe hardship, during what has become an ongoing crisis.