Foundation ramps up food assistance for schools

Caiden Wyngaard, a pupil at Thomas Wildschutt Junior Secondary School.

Floreat Primary pupil, Jayden Simons with his mom, Marchalene Simons.
Steenberg High pupil Eown Lewis with his sister and legal guardian, Chevonne Willemse.

Feed the Nation Foundation continues to provide much-needed assistance to child-headed households across the country, with recent deliveries of food parcels to pupils at schools around the Cape Town area.

Deliveries were made to Zeekoevlei High school, Pelican Park High School, Thomas Wildschutt Junior Primary and Senior Primary schools and Sibelius High School, all in Retreat, as well as to Floreat Primary School in Steenberg and Steenberg Secondary School.

Nadia Anhuizen, educator at Zeekoevlei High School, said the school does whatever they can to support pupils who come from child-headed households. “We are so thankful for this initiative,” she said. “We are greatly concerned about the wellbeing of our learners and this will help fill the bellies and warm the hearts of many families.”

At Steenberg Secondary School, pupils are in a similar predicament, with many of them living in extremely challenging circumstances.

Both Thomas Wildschutt Junior Primary and Senior Primary schools are attended by a high volume of pupils living in impoverished circumstances. Deputy principal of Thomas Wildschutt Junior Primary, Deborah-Anne Africa, said the food assistance would make a significant difference to the lives of the young pupils.

At Pelican Park High School too, parents and guardians said the assistance came at a critical time and many expressed relief at finally being able to feed their families nutritious meals.

A child-headed household often has a living parent or guardian, but is without parental care or income, which means the child is forced to assume the parental role of supporting the household.

Suzanne Ackerman-Berman, transformation director at Pick n Pay and trustee of Feed the Nation Foundation, says the need to support vulnerable families is greater now than ever, as communities are faced with the economic aftermath of the pandemic.

“There are many instances where teenagers are running a home while still attending school or working,” she said. “We’ve even come across incidents where children as young as 9 are having to support a 4-year-old sibling.”

Each food hamper is valued at over R500 and comprises essential grocery items such as maize meal, rice, soup mix, flour, soya mince, cooking oil, salt and soap and fresh vegetables, and is expected to provide food support for a family of four for up to one month.

In what started out as the Feed the Nation campaign, Feed the Nation Foundation has provided over

30 million meals in the form of food hampers to date, in partnership with funders, Pick n Pay customers, suppliers and welfare organisations. This collective effort has not only helped feed schoolchildren – shelters, aged-care facilities, orphanages and other vulnerable communities have also benefited during what has become an ongoing crisis.

By the end of this round of deliveries, the third initiative over the past year to provide food assistance to child-headed households, over 15 000 families nationally will have received food hampers, to a total value of more than R8 million.

“We continue to urge customers to join us in feeding the nation. A donation of just R21 at till points at any Pick n Pay store will help feed someone one meal a day for a week,” said Ms Ackerman-Berman.