Join the Mandela Day soup challenge and feed the hungry
Chefs with Compassion is launching its third annual #67000litre Mandela Day soup cooking challenge to home cooks, soup kitchens, corporates, and other compassionate South Africans, with the aim of smashing the target for the third time.
The 67000-litre soup challenge for Mandela Day has fed close on 600 000 hungry people over the first two years as cooks across the country rose to the challenge, first in 2020 in the face of the devastating pandemic, and again in 2021 following the July riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
This year’s headline partner in the #67000litres Challenge is one of South Africa’s leading premium home appliance brands, AEG. Chef Coo Pillay, CWC’s national project manager, welcomes the company’s willingness to put funding and their name behind the challenge.
“We are very excited to be joining this wonderful initiative and look forward to this year’s challenge. Waste consciousness is essential in building sustainable communities, and we all have a role to play in achieving greater food security for our nation. This campaign is an outstanding example of people coming together through collective action, upholding the spirit of ubuntu and social cohesion by providing a hearty meal to those in need,” said Murray Crow, Managing Director of Electrolux South Africa, the manufacturer of AEG.
The Chefs with Compassion (CWC) 2022 challenge is going out to:
Cooks – including home cooks all over the country, each contributing a R100 participation fee
Corporates – for a participation fee of R5 000 for small and medium companies and R15 000 for large corporates
Communities – community organisations, church groups and other religious organisations, hunger relief organisations and NPOs affiliated to Chefs with Compassion, for an optional participation fee
The participants in all these categories are challenged to cook as many litres of delicious, nourishing soup as they can in 67 minutes during the Mandela Day weekend of Saturday 16 to Monday 18 July, and deliver it to their chosen beneficiary organisation.
Pillay says the funds collected through the challenge are used to sustain Chefs with Compassion’s operational costs. “We run a sharehouse in Johannesburg, with a dedicated team of waste warriors headed up by our food rescue partner Hanneke van Linge of Nosh Food Rescue and sharehouse manager, Jane Gqozo. They diligently rescue produce from the Joburg Fresh Produce Market and from donors across the food supply chain. True waste is separated out from food fit for human consumption, which is distributed to community kitchens to create nourishing meals.
A key aspect of the 2022 challenge is creating greater awareness of the enormity of food waste in the country, which annually accounts for about one third of the food produced in the country – an estimated 10 million tons of food is wasted every year, while about 20 million people go to bed hungry every night. The CWC Mandela Day initiative challenges all participating cooks to clear out their pantries, rescue and freeze scraps of vegetables, and use ingredients sourced sustainably to emphasise the #FeedBelliesNotBins message.
“We embrace the opportunity that Mandela Day gives us to highlight the devastating impact of food waste on the environment and how this can be prevented by redirecting it to people who can use it to feed their communities,” adds Pillay.
In the face of this food waste crisis, the harsh reality of child malnutrition in South Africa must also be faced, particularly as it reached a new high of 27% in 2021. A Mail & Guardian article in February 2021 headlined ‘South African children suffer the slow violence of malnutrition’, stated that malnutrition “slowly eats away at children’s potential, eroding their physical health and cognitive development and undermining their education and economic prospects – driving an intergenerational cycle of poverty, malnutrition and ill-health that comes at a huge cost for individual children, their families, and the South African economy.”
Pillay says, “It takes compassion to not only recognise the need in our fellow human beings, but to do something to make a difference – no matter how small or big – by reducing food waste and feeding the hungry in our communities. Our 67000-litre soup challenge has proved over the years to benefit those who get involved in rescuing food waste, cooking it and feeding people in need, as much as it benefits those who are fed. Please join us in whatever way you can.”