Newly established NGO, Chefs with Compassion has produced more than 40,000 meals a week during the South African national lockdown thanks to restaurant owners, volunteers and enthusiastic chefs, who use rescued produce meals for vulnerable communities across the country. The organization was formed soon after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster in response to the pandemic.
Seeing the unlimited potential to feed the hungry, volunteers were called to assist and the response was overwhelming. Chefs all over the country got involved and the HTA School of Culinary Art provided the space for Chefs with Compassion to grow. Chefs with Compassion is currently operating in Joburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban and Bloemfontein, to be followed shortly by Vereeniging, Makopane, Potchefstroom and Port Elizabeth.
Coovashan Pillay, Chefs with Compassion’s National Project Manager, said: “Our need in these areas is for food waste warriors to champion the rescue of produce from the markets and farmers; a warehouse facility where produce can be sorted and dispatched to kitchen hubs; volunteers in the form of chefs to cook in the hubs; and hands to fulfil the warehouse and sorting functions”
The SA Chefs Association provided a funding boost and, in its fifth week, production grew by 212,2%, from nine kitchens to 22, and from 11,749 meals to 36,681 meals in a single week. Food waste warriors from NOSH Food Rescue, through their relationship with farmers, retailers and produce agents at markets, rescue produce that would otherwise have been discarded and destroyed.
This is transported to the warehouse, where volunteers sort can be used to feed people and produce that cannot be salvaged for human consumption is given to pig farmers. Chefs with Compassion is an alliance of five local and global organisations and is backed by more than 300 chefs.
South Africa produces about 31 million tonnes of food a year and of that, an estimated 10 million tonnes,44% of which is vegetables and fruit is wasted. NOSH Food Rescue’s Hanneke van Linge, with Thava Indian Restaurant in Norwood, began turning surplus rescued food that would otherwise have gone to waste into nutritious stews and curries.
“In a country like South Africa that is marked by both a high-calibre hospitality sector and extreme hunger, we have to find innovative ways to work together and find real solutions to our social plights,” said Van Linge.