27 December 2002
Four years ago, in 1998, three women became aware of the increasing problem of hunger and wanted to do something about it. They also, on a personal level, wanted to give something back to poorer communities, and decided to combine the two. Along with this and loads of dedication, Feed SA was born.
They set up a website with an interactive “one impression, one mouth” function, which allows web surfers to help alleviate hunger for free – by leveraging greater contributions from advertising companies based on the number of click-throughs to the site’s advertiser page.
However, they soon realised that Internet page impressions or “hits” alone would not be enough to generate the sort of money they needed to meet the demand they were experiencing.
And so, says co-founder Heather Berger, they began looking at ways of generating more income. They initiated fundraising exercises as well as ways of helping those who need food to generate income for themselves.
The three, Berger, Lisa Jehosefat and Candice Etberg, assist food recipients to come up with business plans and ideas for start-up projects. They are also developing an online shop to sell crafts made by Soweto residents.
A garden project has been established and will soon start selling vegetables grown by the food project beneficiaries. And once a month FeedSA buys food items from a major wholesaler to distribute to seven beneficiary organisations ranging from orphanages to old age homes.
Soweto Concerned Youth, for example, packages the food into hampers and distributes it to needy families. The Soweto Old Age home supplies the food to its residents.
FeedSA also visits the projects they help to ensure that the food reaches those who need it most. “I’ve been in shacks where 30 people live in the same cramped quarters”, Heather says. “Some of those we help are families where both parents are HIV-positive and can no longer work, and the food is critical to help them and their children.”
FeedSA purchases a range of food items, all non-perishable and chosen for their high-protein or high-energy qualities. These include items such as maize meal, soya mince, peanut butter and tinned beans, which are all organised into food packs.
“We have had a lot of feedback from the website with people volunteering to help us, and at present we are developing a volunteer programme”, says Heather. Not surprisingly, FeedSA has also been approached by large donor companies to assist other feeding projects with their expertise.
Most of the funds collected by FeedSA go to existing feeding programmes in South Africa, while 10% goes towards creating other projects and administrative costs.
“As FeedSA becomes established, we aim to set up similar organisations such as clotheSA and educateSA”, the organisation says on its website. “These are all part of the broader mission of helping South Africans in need.”
This article first appeared on the Johannesburg World Summit 2002 website