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Thu Aug 28 05:07:52 SAST 2014

It's a huge task getting food to the hungry

ISAAC MAHLANGU | 27 November, 2011 02:08

FOR a mere R1.72, FoodBank SA is able to feed one hungry mouth a day.

But relabelling and packaging donated food items and then delivering parcels to hundreds of organisations, creches and churches is not easy.

With only 23 trucks available and a full-time staff of 73, the organisation, which has donated over 32 million meals worth over R120-million since 2009, struggles to move as much food to the needy as it can.

FoodBank started operating two years ago and is involved in numerous campaigns in the fight against hunger.

The Sunday Times and its sister titles in the Avusa stable have this festive season joined forces with Pick n Pay to boost their efforts over Christmas through an initiative called Hampers Against Hunger.

Members of the public are encouraged to donate cash or Pick n Pay Smart Shopper points to the organisation.

FoodBank has nine outlets, with three main hubs in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, from which it runs its distribution centres.

In Johannesburg, six trucks visit at least 18 Pick n Pay stores daily to collect donated food.

Mpho Putu, FoodBank's regional manager, said just a R10 donation covered the cost of feeding six people.

On Wednesday, when the Sunday Times visited the organisation's Johannesburg facility, chocolate croissants, lemon tarts and fresh strawberries were among food items packaged for distribution.

Tons of other donated foods, ranging from pasta, maize meal and samp to hot-cross buns, muffins and jelly are marked with FoodBank labels to prevent them from being resold.

Putu said over 600 organisations came to collect parcels, which they, in turn, distributed in their communities.

He said the organisation received huge donations daily from Pick n Pay, as well as regular contributions from Kellogg's, Unilever, Nestlé, Tiger Brands and Food Co, while fuel for the collection and delivery trucks was sponsored by oil company Engen.

But he said managing the distribution process was a massive task and required as many hands on deck as possible.

Defacing the food products to protect the integrity of the charity process is time-consuming, as there are over 50000 products that need to be relabelled daily in Johannesburg alone. Nationally, staff and volunteers relabel about 200000 items a day. On Wednesday the organisation had an extra 422 entities on its waiting list.

"Priority is given to the most vulnerable people and poorer organisations," said Putu.

Bumbanani Preschool, near the Johannesburg city centre, receives about R10000 worth of food parcels each month.

It has 40 children on its books and, thanks to FoodBank, is able to provide the children with three meals a day.

Peterson Dlamini, the pre-school's coordinator, said the school had started sharing their food by running a feeding scheme for children from nearby schools.

  • Pick n Pay customers can donate their Smart Shopper points or make cash donations at in-store money boxes. Donations can also be made at tills and online.

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Thu Aug 28 05:07:52 SAST 2014 ::