Sunday 16 October marks the global commemoration of World Food Day, the date of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) - a date that is focused on increasing awareness of world hunger and poverty and inspiring solutions for world change. It also marks the three year anniversary of food rescue and hunger relief organisation SA Harvest and the celebration of its 30 million meal milestone.
According to the FAO, “Three years into the pandemic, two things have come into sharp relief. One is how interconnected our economies and lives are. The other is that on the road to recovery, too many people are being left behind and are unable to benefit equally from innovation and prosperity.” SA Harvest’s work in developing solutions to hunger are aimed at addressing this imbalance, the constitutional right to food and the broken food system in South Africa.
Alan Browde, CEO of SA Harvest, founded the organisation three years ago in response to what was already, even before the ravages inflicted by COVID and the subsequent lockdowns, an inconceivable reality – that over 13 million people were going to sleep hungry every night while 10 million tonnes of food was wasted every year in South Africa.
Commenting on the factors that have fuelled SA Harvest’s growth and the significant achievement of 30 million meals delivered in three years, Browde says, “Our growth has been exponential, and this can be attributed to a quite outstanding team which is dedicated to our mission to end hunger in South Africa. Of course, we would not have been able to do this without the incredible generosity of both our food and money donors and we are eternally grateful to them for enabling our ability to give service to millions of hungry South Africans.”
SA Harvest offers a unique end-to-end food rescue and hunger relief solution, sourcing both perishable and non-perishable foods, and excess fresh, nutrient-dense food from across the food supply chain, including at agricultural, manufacturing and retail level. Drivers collect the produce from food donors and deliver them in SA Harvest’s refrigerated vehicles, either directly to vetted beneficiaries or to its warehouses in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban for later distribution.
Hunger in South Africa has reached unprecedented levels, and Statistics South Africa’s latest report shows that inflation is still being driven by rising food and fuel prices, with food inflation hitting even higher in August at 11.5% (up from 10.1% in July).
Yet the resilience of South Africans remains intact. SA Harvest’s over 200 beneficiary organisations are the epicentre of its rescue operation and continue to meet the ever-increasing need in their communities through their capability to safely handle, prepare and distribute nutritious meals to their recipients.
Having delivered the equivalent of 30 million meals and rescued 9,1 million kilograms of food from ending up in landfill in its first 36 months, SA Harvest has demonstrated its capabilities in applying the solution of food rescue to addressing the hunger problem. But Browde remains resolute in his belief that systemic intervention is needed if we are to end hunger: “While food charity, which is, of course, one of the key pillars of SA Harvest’s activity, is crucial at this time in South Africa, it will not in itself end hunger. It is incumbent on organisations working within the hunger relief space to ensure that, while feeding people, they also work on initiatives that will create the structures for reducing reliance on charity and ultimately ensure food sovereignty and independence. This requires intervention at the systemic level, which SA Harvest is taking very seriously with many appropriate projects underway.”