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Nedbank heeds urgent need to feed South Africa’s hungry

Nedbank Agriculture has donated R1 million to South Africa’s largest food redistribution charity, FoodForward SA, in a bid to help scale and provide critical food provisions to the most vulnerable groups across the country.

Established in 2009 to address widespread hunger in South Africa, FoodForward SA connects a world of excess to a world of need by recovering quality edible surplus food from farmers, retailers and manufacturers, for redistribution to beneficiary organisations that serve the poor: a model they refer to as food banking. FoodForward SA has warehouses, cold-chain and logistics infrastructure, to be able to address hunger at scale through surplus food distribution.

In line with Nedbank’s focus on the agricultural sector, its funding will be allocated to further develop FoodForward SA’s Second Harvest programme. With more than 30% of South Africa’s food going to waste, Second Harvest was developed as an outreach programme to commercial farmers, allowing them to donate post-harvest surplus produce directly from the farm. This programme has drastically improved the nutritional value of the food recovered, and significantly increased volumes, thereby increasing the number of people FoodForward SA is able to reach.

 Even before lockdown, South Africa had the highest inequality in the world as measured by the Gini Coefficient. Now, as a result of the ongoing recession and the Covid-19 lockdown, the official unemployment rate is 40,5%, including expanded unemployment, which incorporates people who have stopped looking for work. All of this contributes to more than 30 million people being food-insecure, or at risk of food insecurity, because of inadequate access to safe and nutritious food for the poor. The impact of Covid-19 has simply exacerbated what is already a food security crisis, and the country is starting to register cases of malnutrition in children for the first time in decades.

John Hudson, Nedbank’s national head of agriculture, says that FoodForward SA was the obvious choice as the bank’s beneficiary of much-needed funds to help nourish the vulnerable. ‘FoodForward SA has the business model, infrastructure, administrative capacity, governance and stakeholder network to not only continue distributing food to the poor, but to also scale up operations. The economic fallout caused by both the Covid-19 pandemic and the sovereign downgrading heightens the urgent need for distribution of food to the poor, and it is in this light that this financial assistance is of vital importance not only to the beneficiaries, but to the country as a whole.’   

FoodForward SA’s managing director, Andy Du Plessis, says that aside from the funding, Nedbank has unlocked some valuable opportunities for FoodForward SA. ‘Nedbank was instrumental in initiating our new partnership with AgriSA and the Citrus Growers Association of South Africa, which allows us to connect with 28 000 farmers and 1 000 farmer associations to get edible surplus fresh produce to at-risk communities. In the past 12 weeks alone this crucial partnership has resulted in the donation of more than 1 000 tons of fresh produce to our Second Harvest programme.

As a direct result of the partnership, we are also able to extend our food support into the Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, and distribute surplus fresh produce to 450 000 vulnerable people through our network of more than 1 005 beneficiary organisations,’ says Du Plessis.

FoodForward SA is part of a global movement focused on alleviating hunger and reducing environmental impact by diverting good-quality, edible surplus food to those who need it most. In partnership with various stakeholders, the charity has implemented an ecosystem that uses surplus food as a catalyst for social change. Its model promotes 11 of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, reducing food waste is the third-most effective solution for fighting climate change. For every ton of food recovered, four tons of greenhouse gas emissions are saved.


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