On the 15th of September, FoodForward SA launched its ninth Mobile Rural Depot Programme (MRD) in underserved rural communities in Kwa Zulu Natal. The first FoodForward SA’s MRD was launched in Worcester and served five beneficiary organisations.
In just over a year, it has grown to support 20 organisations that focus on social and community development and which benefit over 4000 vulnerable people. “Since launching our MRD programme, we’ve been able to provide food support even more cost-effectively. It doesn’t require us to set up costly physical infrastructure,” FoodForward SA MD, Andy du Plessis.
FoodForward SA, with seed funding from the Global Food banking Network, launched its MRD programme in July 2019 to address food insecurity in vulnerable rural communities where, according to Du Plessis, food insecurity affects one in three people.
Food allocations comprise a combination of non-perishable grocery items and fresh produce. Where possible, once the food has been distributed at the MRD, FoodForward SA’s trucks proceed to the farmers in the surrounding area to collect agricultural surplus produce. These are then taken back to their warehouse in the area for sorting and distribution.
KwaZulu-Natal, according to Statistics South Africa, is the province with the highest number of rural areas in South Africa. The new MRD will serve about 1,651 vulnerable people through a network of seven beneficiary organisations located in Mtubatuba, Kwangwanase, Thokoza and Nongoma in the north of the province.
“If 13% of South Africa’s rural population will be moving to urban centres in the next 30 years, rural communities will experience a decline in infrastructure development. The most vulnerable who stay behind will suffer the most,” said du Plessis.
This means that access to food in rural areas will be severely hampered, which makes FoodForward SA’s Mobile Rural Depot Programme even more critical in helping address hunger in vulnerable communities.
“Since launching our MRD programme, we’ve been able to provide food support even more cost-effectively. It doesn’t require us to set up costly physical infrastructure.We’re also very thankful for Engen South Africa’s donation of R1m to help cover our fuel expenses to these remote areas,” said Du Plessis.
Other areas covered by FoodForward SA’s Mobile Rural Depot Programme includes Beaufort West, East London, George, Greyton, KZN South, Mafikeng, Malmesbury, Oudtshoorn and Pietermaritzburg. These rural areas have been chosen based on the high incidences of malnutrition and food insecurity. FoodForward SA hopes to expand our MRD programme to more underserved rural communities in the Eastern Cape and North-West Province.