Acute food insecurity in Africa has increased by over 60% in the past year and threatens to widen even further, especially if we consider rising inflation and food prices as well as the fact that overall inflation rate in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow to 12.2% stretching consumer pockets even further. South Africa also continues to experience some of the highest levels of inequality in the world and the scope of food-insecurity and the hunger it causes for vulnerable South Africans is prolonged and profound.
As we commemorate World Food Day on 16th October, it serves as a powerful reminder that access to food is crucial and that partnerships with purpose can make a difference.
“Over the past few years, there has certainly been an increase in awareness around World Food Day and the willingness for corporate South Africa to get involved. The day does create awareness around the number of people who are food insecure in our country, but we need to remember that there are people who face hunger every day,” says Brian Nell, CEO of Rise Against Hunger Africa.
“Being on the ground we have certainly seen an increase in demand for nutritional support. In fact, as we move further from the pandemic, we have seen the attendance numbers of learners increase closer to 2019 levels, however, as parents struggle with high inflation, many are not able to pay school fees. There is also an increase in requests for “take home” meals for the families whose children attend the Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres we serve, placing more pressure all round.”
Not only are South Africa’s children stunted through insufficient nutrients for healthy growth and development but that most South African children now live in communities where healthy foods are no longer available or affordable. And for many in ECD centres across the country, the meal at school is the only meal for the day.
As the second largest feeding scheme in South Africa, KFC Add Hope has a strong focus on ECD centres and have been filling tummies and feeding potential since 2009 through the money raised through R2 customer donations as well as KFC’s contribution – all of which goes towards providing healthy and nutritious meals to children in need. To date, Add Hope has provided over 318 million meals supporting more than 134 different non-profit organisations (NPOs) across South Africa’s 9 provinces of which Rise Against Hunger is one.
“We are always in awe of the incredible work our partner organisations do. This year, together with Rise Against Hunger Africa, we wanted to get involved ourselves and facilitated a meal packing event for all of our head office staff,” says Andra Nel, Marketing Manager: Brand & Purpose at KFC. “Each parcel contains a number of staples, dehydrated vegetables and vitamin sachets – and with over 150 staff joining in we were able to meet our target of 35 000 meals.”
35 000 meals will feed 152 children, 5 meals a week for an entire year whilst attending their ECD facility. These were handed over to two ECD centres – Tangani in Diepsloot and Elelwani in Ivory Park.
“Our ECD Connect program takes on unregistered ECDs and helps them improve their facilities, building on educational infrastructure, teacher training and health and safety standards. This is achieved through the savings created by providing them with meals sponsored by KFC Add Hope,” says Nell. “These ECDs were selected not only because the parcels are much needed but also because they are great examples of the progress that can be made within these centres through the provision of donated meals.”
KFC Add Hope continues to steadily increase its reach, and its scale, through additional relief feeding efforts, as well as these partnerships and of course the generosity of South Africans, with the hope to be able to provide 500 million meals by 2030.
“Rising food prices has a devastating impact on impoverished communities. It means less food purchasing power both in terms of quantity and quality. This has an impact on health, child development, and social and mental well-being. No child should go to bed hungry, and no child should be deprived of a good education, and I truly believe that through collective and continued efforts, along with government support, we can truly feed our future potential,” concludes Nel.