By Annisa Essack
As South Africa commemorated Human Rights Day on 21 March, SA Harvest staff were busy at work hoping to ensure that millions of South Africans do not go hungry.
According to KZN operations manager for food rescue organisation, SA Harvest, Lindsay Hopkins, some 10 million tons of food is dumped on landfills every year in South Africa while millions of people go to bed hungry. Lindsay blames this massive amount of food wastage on a broken food system.
“If you have millions of South Africans going to bed on empty stomachs, our food system is broken. We are trying to take it apart and rebuild it,” she said.
SA Harvest diverts food from the landfill into the community, where members are vetted before they are approved as recipients. The organisation also sources the right food to put together nutritional packages for the community. The team goes out and sources food when there are items missing from food hampers. Hopkins has created a corporate kitchen making 20-litre buckets per day, and they make 30 buckets. Each bucket serves between 80 and 100 people.
SA Harvest aims to increase access to food.
“We take on any short-dated or surplus food items. There are tons of food waste that goes to landfills which we redirect into the community. The food comes from farmers, retailers, manufacturers and distribution centres,” said Hopkins.
She said there was massive food wastage when food does not meet retails standards or if complications arise in the distribution process. “If there are any blemishes or malformations on fruit or vegetables, the retailers won’t buy it from the farmers. From the distribution side, if they send off a whole pallet of glass bottles of a sauce out and one ends up cracking, they must return the whole pallet,” she explained.
Currently, SA Harvest is distributing salvaged food to communities in Umlazi, Chatsworth, Inanda, KwaMashu, Palmiet, Ballito, Richards Bay and Hammarsdale.
“It’s a constitutional right to have food and SA Harvest is taking measures to take authorities to task where food is not handled with respect,” she said.
Hopkins also started an NPO round table in KZN to help NPOs work together as many NGOs stopped their mandates to feed people. As they try to get back to their mandate but still have hungry people to feed, she has asked to take over their donations and beneficiaries.