No-one should be left behind in the fight against hunger

Woolworths' corporate affairs director, Zinzi Mgolodela, reveals how the retailer is making a significant contribution to food security

17 October 2023 - 13:23
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Woolworths' Living Soils Community Learning Farm gives young black farmers and agriculture students, predominantly women, training in sustainable and regenerative farming methods.
Image: Supplied Woolworths' Living Soils Community Learning Farm gives young black farmers and agriculture students, predominantly women, training in sustainable and regenerative farming methods.

The UN commemorated World Food Day on October 16. This year’s theme, “Water is life, water is food. Leave no-one behind,” underscores the vital role that water plays in the production of food and sustaining life on our planet.

We chat to Woolworths’ corporate affairs director, Zinzi Mgolodela, about the company’s significant contribution and commitment to food security and responsible water use, particularly the collective action to produce more food in SA — a water-stressed country.

Q: Why is it important to acknowledge World Food Day?

World Food Day stands as a beacon of hope as nations unite to combat food insecurity and strive towards the ambitious UN goal of #zerohunger by 2030. Woolworths aligns itself with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation mandate to “leave no-one behind” and 2023's emphasis on responsible water use. By championing regenerative farming principles in our Farming for the Future programme, we encourage the conscientious use of water, urging everyone to value and manage the precious resource in their daily lives. It is a valuable reminder that what we consume and how food is produced affects our water resources. 

Q: Why is food security important to Woolworths?

At Woolworths, we firmly believe that access to food is a fundamental human right. Our Inclusive Justice Initiative commits us to addressing food security inequalities in SA. We recognise that meaningful change can be achieved through partnerships with organisations focused on alleviating hunger. We focus on establishing systems that empower individuals with the knowledge and resources to secure their own food while upholding responsibility towards the environment and its resources such as water. 

Q: Tell us about the food security partnerships that you support? 

Beyond immediate food relief, we are committed to helping communities cultivate sustainable, long-term food security solutions. Over the past year, we've contributed more than R5.6m to SA organisations that empower communities to bolster food security. Additionally, we've donated 11,325 tonnes of surplus food to 890 charities nationwide from our stores. Our collaboration with FoodForwardSA is instrumental in redistributing surplus food, providing essential nourishment across the country, while also offering meaningful employment to unemployed youth.

In collaboration with supplier Spier and NGO partner The Sustainability Institute, we have created the Living Soils Community Learning Farm where young black farmers and agriculture students, predominantly women, receive hands-on training in sustainable and regenerative farming methods. This initiative not only fosters the growth of nutritious produce, but also fortifies local and long-term community food security efforts, offering livelihood opportunities through agriculture.

Woolworths’ corporate affairs director Zinzi Mgolodela.
Image: Supplied Woolworths’ corporate affairs director Zinzi Mgolodela.

In partnership with organisations such as ForAfrika, InMed SA, Rhiza Babuyile, Siyazisiza Trust, the Social Change Assistance Trust, Thanda and the Timbali Technology Incubator, we empower communities across SA to grow their own food. These organisations support and train young farmers, youth with disabilities, women farmers and food-stressed communities. 

Woolworths’ financial support of these organisations during the first six months of 2023 has resulted in the harvest of 200 tonnes of food, the distribution of thousands of kilograms of food and provided 930,000 people with access to food. In addition, more than 1,500 people have received either coaching, mentoring or technical assistance, and more than 220 people have enrolled in training courses focused on food production for personal and community consumption or for livelihoods and career opportunities.

As we mark this World Food Day, we are reminded that ensuring food security is a collective effort that requires the commitment and collaboration of individuals, communities and organisations worldwide. Woolworths' dedication to food security and responsible water use serves as an inspiring example of what can be achieved when we work together to leave no-one behind. Together, we can create a more nourished, resilient and equitable world for all.

This article was sponsored by Woolworths. 


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