The country’s largest and most successful surplus food recovery non-profit organisation, FoodForward SA, has become more driven than ever in supporting those NGOs, NPOs and organisations which drive youth and community development and overcome challenges faced by the vulnerable.
FoodForward SA implements a unique model called FoodBanking, which uses good quality, surplus food from the supply chain as a catalyst for social development in under-served communities. The transformative value of their model is demonstrated in their partnership with Thandanani Drop Inn Centre, located in Mamelodi, Tshwane, which shows that beneficiary organisations have a life-changing role to play in youth development, when they are supported.
Thandanani is one of the registered beneficiary organisations with which FoodForward SA has managed to achieve exceptional success. The non-profit organisation which is the brainchild of cousins and Mamelodi East residents, Thabo Kgotsi and Viktor Tswayi, helps youths in the township find pride and confidence themselves as they are given the nourishment and support which they need to have happy lives.
The centre originally operated a feeding programme in the 1980s, but this was unfortunately stopped in the 1990s and during this period, many youths began to return to the streets, exposing themselves to drugs and crime. The centre was reopened in 2011 with the aim of pushing back hunger, unemployment, gender- based violence, drug abuse and poverty.
FoodForward SA approved Thandanani as a beneficiary organisation (BO) in May 2020, allowing them to help more than 150 unemployed youth to apply for job opportunities, of which more than 50 have been employed.
“Being a FoodForward SA BO has helped us immensely because it has alleviated our constant struggle of providing healthy nutritional meals for our vulnerable youth and enabled us to cope with the increasing numbers due to the pandemic faced by the entire country,” Kgotsi and Tswayi say.
“Our feeding programme has been strengthened in leaps and bounds and caters for beneficiaries from children to youth, the homeless, substance users and the elderly, and is greatly appreciated by the community for the crucial services it renders timely,” they say.
FoodForward SA’s nutritious food support allowed the NPO not to close down when the pandemic spread. “We were near collapse, as the number of people needing to be fed and supported increased rapidly, we could not cope with the increased demand of our services. FoodForward SA came to our aid and provided much needed relief,” Kgotsi says.
FoodForward SA was founded in 2009 to address widespread hunger in SA. The national organisation recovers edible surplus food from the consumer goods supply chain and then distributes it to registered beneficiary organisations which serve the poor and disenfranchised. More than 75% of the organisations within FoodForward SA’s network focus on education, skills development, youth, and vulnerable children and women.
The organisation has been lauded for its excellent management and transparent, well-managed, well-audited processes. The group is renowned for sourcing quality surplus food from suppliers, and reports that more than 80% of the food it recovers is nutritious.
During its 2020/21 financial year, FoodForward SA distributed 7,125 tons of food, equating to 29 million meals. They reach 675,000 vulnerable people daily, through a network of 1,200 beneficiaries across SA. FoodForward SA manages to do this at a cost of only R0.85 a meal, thanks to welcomed support from donors, volunteers and partners.
FoodForward SA’s managing director, Andy Du Plessis, says that youth unemployment is at an all-time high, and supporting youth-focussed organisations like Thandanani is crucial.
The Thandanani Drop Inn Centre says the partnership with FoodForward has been of colossal importance to it and the needy individuals and families it helps.
“Our partnership has brought relief to more than our at-risk youth. It’s amazing the amount of difference a nutritious breakfast or lunch can bring to one, the happiness on a child’s face, the joy of a student, the jubilation of a young person, all knowing they are going to start the day right, on a full stomach and one less worry,” the centre says.
“Poverty is greatly depressing, silently killing and too embarrassing to admit, the environment we’ve created through our partnership has empowered our community, one meal at a time, for all to reach for their dreams,” it says.
Du Plessis says FoodForward SA is excited to be scaling up, and increasing its reach and impact across South Africa, and contributing to the world’s Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people–especially children–have sufficient and nutritious food throughout the year.