Chefs left jobless during hard lockdown get support to keep feeding the needy

What started as volunteering work for chefs who were jobless during the hard lockdown has turned into something permanent — and thousands will benefit

13 January 2021 - 07:00
Chefs with Compassion chair Arnold Tanzer and Compass Insure MD Ismail Ismail with J Something, lead singer of Mi Casa and celebrity foodie, who is one of the many kitchen stars who have dedicated time to the Chefs with Compassion effort.
Chefs with Compassion chair Arnold Tanzer and Compass Insure MD Ismail Ismail with J Something, lead singer of Mi Casa and celebrity foodie, who is one of the many kitchen stars who have dedicated time to the Chefs with Compassion effort.
Image: Supplied

All they wanted to do was to make a difference during the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. Fast-forward almost nine months and what started as volunteering work for chefs who were jobless during the hard lockdown has turned into something permanent.

Now they have received the financial boost that will keep them going for 18 months, letting their mission of feeding the needy continue.

Thanks to specialist insurance company Compass Insure, which has committed to partner Chefs with Compassion for the next 18 months, they will be able to continue rescuing food to provide nutritious meals for hungry South Africans.

Arnold Tanzer, chairperson of Chefs with Compassion, said the sponsorship comes at a pivotal time for the organisation and for the country as the ravages of the second wave of Covid-19 are being felt.

According to Tanzer, the volunteer-based organisation has served more than 1.5 million meals to food-vulnerable people since the start of lockdown. The organisation “rescues” food that would have ended up in the landfill.

Since April 6 last year, Chefs with Compassion has rescued more than 470 tonnes of food and served 1,382,632 meals. Nothing goes to waste — 30.24 tonnes or 6.43% of ingredients that are not fit for human consumption has been sent to community-driven pig farmers.

“This remarkable achievement has been made possible by a volunteer network of compassionate chefs and community caterers serving nutritious meals to recipients supported by more than 30 beneficiary organisations,” Tanzer said.

The partnership with Compass Insure enables us to continue our mission of rescuing food and feeding those most in need.
Arnold Tanzer

Initially operating from the HTA School of Culinary Art for the first five months of lockdown, Chefs with Compassion has been sustained by generous partners and donations, most notably the South African Chefs Association.

Since moving into a “sharehouse” near the Joburg Fresh Produce Market in City Deep, overheads such as rent, utilities, logistics, reimbursement of volunteer transport costs and a sharehouse manager have increased.

“The partnership with Compass Insure enables the sustainability of the operation, allowing us to continue our mission of rescuing food and feeding those most in need. We are deeply grateful to Compass Insure for the confidence they have placed in our relatively young organisation,” Tanzer said.

In SA, more than 10 million tonnes of food goes to waste every year, while more than 16 million people go hungry each day.

Through its food-rescue partner Nosh Food Rescue NPC, Chefs with Compassion collects a significant amount of fit-for-consumption surplus produce that would end up in a landfill or incinerator. These raw ingredients are then cooked and distributed to the needy through the Chefs with Compassion volunteer network.

“The intent of Chefs with Compassion, which is to achieve both food sustainability and feed the hungry, resonates with us. It is a simple concept that achieves significant ongoing results,” said Ismail Ismail, MD of Compass Insure.

“We hope that our support will help the organisation deepen its roots and that we can create some exciting initiatives to boost the amazing work already done by a team of passionate and committed people.

“Our goal is simple: to help Chefs with Compassion cook many more meals.”

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