Food banks reach out to the needy

10 November 2009

The South African government, working through four “food banks”, has distributed up to 600 tons of food to more than 100 000 people in need of emergency food relief since May, says Public Works Minister Geoff Doidge.

Briefing the media in Cape Town this week, Doidge said that the four food banks, located in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, had distributed food through 900 agencies.

Food bank network

Each food bank acts on behalf of social services agencies, by procuring food which is mainly donated by the food and grocery industries, government agencies, individuals and other organisations.

The government plans to have a food bank, complemented by a network of village food banks, set up in each of the country’s nine provinces.

The food banks are being set up under FoodBank South Africa, a non-profit organisation formed by the South African Forum for Food Security – a partnership between government, civil society and the corporate sector.

Public-private partnerships

South Africa and sub-Sahara’s first food bank was launched in Cape Town in March, and already a number of countries around the world have set up their own networks of food banks.

“We are grateful to the civil society and corporate sector for their cooperation in setting up the SA Food Bank and the community food bank networks,” Doidge said. “This is the kind of partnership that our country needs during these hard economic times.”

He said government had also introduced various other measures to assist poor households in the production of food and collection of water. One was that households are being provided with agricultural starter packs which include seeds, farming implements and fertilisers.

Micro farming projects

Another measure is an intervention by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, which together with the Food Agriculture Organisation, has so far helped finance eight micro farming projects through the UN’s Tele-Food Fund.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries director general Kgabi Mogajane said the government was able to secure a grant of US$23 000 (R170 000) to fund the programme.

The Department of Environmental Affairs has also initiated a rainwater harvesting programme aimed at rural areas plagued by water shortages.

“We have what we call veggie towers which have been erected particularly in drier areas where we know very well that they don’t have adequate water,” said Mogajane.

She said these towers had been erected in Muyexe, Limpopo and would also be set up in Riemvasmaak in the Northern Cape and Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal.

For more information, visit the FoodBank South Africa website

Source: BuaNews