Retailers have begun to entice shoppers to splurge on flowers, chocolates and other gifts for that someone special this Valentine’s Day, but Potatoes South Africa is hoping to convince consumers to rather gift food to the hungry for the month of love.

“For many South Africans that lack access to adequate food because of limited money, February is likely to be dire this year,” warns Potatoes South Africa CEO Willie Jacobs.

“Notably, skyrocketing fuel prices, electricity tariff hikes, increased input costs, and heavy rainfalls in the summer season have significantly driven up the costs of food production, which in turn is translating into higher food prices and rising costs of living for already overburdened families,” he notes.

According to Statistics South Africa, fuel prices had jumped by 40.5% in December 2021 compared to December 2020. Meanwhile, electricity prices surged 15.06% in 2021, and are likely to rise by double-digit figures again in 2022. In combination with various other factors, this meant that Consumer Price Index (CPI) food inflation measured at 5.5% in December last year.

“Seen against the backdrop of continuously rising unemployment levels and the negative economic impacts of the pandemic, this means that many South Africans are facing issues of food insecurity and living from hand to mouth.”

Potatoes SA is therefore calling on all South Africans to extend a helping hand by gifting those in need a bag of potatoes this Valentine’s Day. This initiative forms part of the #PassThePotato campaign which aims to encourage South Africans to donate potatoes to those in need, and to challenge friends and family members on social media to do the same using #PassThePotato.

“As we celebrate the month of love, we are encouraging all South Africans to join in the spirit of compassion, and to take urgent action to support the poor and needy,” explains Jacobs. “Notably, potatoes offer an important source of complex carbohydrates for increasing feelings of satiety and providing sustained energy, making them the perfect gift for households facing issues of hunger.”

Leading from the front, the employees of the organisation have already donated tons of potatoes to various charitable organisations including The Village Safe Haven in Sandton and the Lutheran Church in Alexandra, which offers a feeding scheme for adults and children. Following suit, industry stakeholders have also joined hands to #PassThePotato, thereby triggering a wave of further donations answering the call.

Hunger-busting heroes

Potatoes’ cost-effectiveness, taste, versatility, and unique nutritional benefits make them the perfect solution for intelligently curbing hunger, notes Jacobs.

Notably, a 7kg bag of potatoes offers almost 40 servings of 180g each, helping budgets stretch a little further. Additionally, when cooked correctly with the skins on, potatoes are nutrient powerhouses, packed with important vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin C, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, copper, iodine, iron, phosphorous, manganese, magnesium, zinc, and calcium – all of which play a crucial role in optimising overall health. Finally, potatoes offer significant volume and fiber, keeping stomachs feeling fuller for longer and preventing individuals from needing to eat as much and as often.

“So, if you are lucky enough to have plenty of food on the table, please don’t forget about those who are not as fortunate, and remember to pass the potato,” he concludes.

Any South Africans seeking hunger-busting recipes for February can further access a wide range of budget-friendly potato dishes courtesy of Potatoes South Africa here:

For more details on how to join the #PassThePotato movement visit: