The emerging lockdown risks of civil unrest and an increase in crime related to food scarcity have turned into reality. Both risks were communicated to media and relevant public sector officials in late March by the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA).
These incidents of unrest and crime are arising due to the lockdown restrictions that caused a disruption to the regular food distribution patterns and reduced or removed the income of many breadwinners.
While several formal and informal projects are underway both nationally and locally to secure food availability to vulnerable households, the solutions seem to not spread wide and far and fast enough.
“It is of the greatest urgency that efforts to address the food access problem are well coordinated to offer maximum assistance and minimal duplication of efforts,” warns IRMSA CEO Gillian le Cordeur. “This is not a political or a corporate responsibility issue; this is a basic human rights issue.”
According to IRMSA the best possible treatment of this risk is not the establishment of new initiatives but the immediate significant support to an organisation with an established national footprint, a track record of trusted performance, and the ability to scale as soon as funds are made available.
“Once we identified this risk treatment we started the search for an organisation that satisfies this list of seemingly impossible criteria,” says Le Cordeur. “We were relieved to find FoodForward SA; a food redistribution non-profit organisation that has been perfecting their operations since 2003.”
FoodForward SA redistributes edible surplus food groceries and operates as part of the international Global Foodbank Network (GFN). The organisation has an established national distribution footprint enabled by its verified beneficiary network of over 1,000 charities that serve over 400,00 people daily across the country.
“Our permit as an essential service has allowed us to continue delivering safe and nutritious food at R0.85 per meal to vulnerable communities during the lockdown period,” says Andy du Plessis, Managing Director of FoodForward SA. “We’ve had to radically ramp up our food and non-food groceries donation, collection and delivery efforts so that we don’t turn a health crisis into a food crisis.”
“To address all the underserved provinces and rural communities we made a public call for R50 million towards the end of March,” says Du Plessis. “So far we have raised R14mn, but more funds are required to get food provisions into vulnerable communities so that we quell the outbreaks of civil unrest and theft.”
Before the COVID-19 crisis FoodForward SA had a strategic plan to establish its operations in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, as well as strengthen its operations in remote rural areas through FoodForward SA Mobile Rural Depots. The lockdown creates an urgent and immediate need for funds to bring these plans forward as quickly as possible.
“We are ready to serve South Africa to the full extent needed by her citizens,” says Du Plessis, “but we can only scale up in time if the projected R50 million can reach us as soon as possible.”