With an 80% unemployment rate among the youth and most elderly community members surviving on pension grants, Blaauwskop in the Northern Cape is a low-income area in constant need of help.
Marcellino September, 54, has been the Blaauwskop Intermediate School Principal for 22 years and is aware of the socio-economic challenges that have an impact on the 600 learners at the school, and he’s therefore exceedingly grateful for the support Shoprite recently provided for the school’s food garden.
“When you’re in a rural area, sometimes you feel like you’re forgotten. You think that good things only happen in urban areas and you believe that companies forget that support is needed in rural areas too,” says Marcellino.
The food garden at the school was started in 1998 to supplement the school’s feeding programme, but the part-time gardener who’s been taking care of the garden needed help as the school was hoping to grow crops throughout the year.
Shoprite arranged for the installation of rainwater harvesting infrastructure – including gutters and a 5,000-litre water tank – at the school, and donated seedlings, gardening tools, fruit trees and much more.
The retailer has also been running full-day training workshops to teach the teachers, learners and the gardener about modern permaculture methods to make the best use of their resources.
“Because we now have a better understanding of how to grow the crops in an eco-friendly way, we have incorporated gardening skills into the curriculum. It’s so important for our little ones to learn life skills like gardening because that will stay with them forever. It also helps them to have an understanding of the food supply chain,” explains Marcellino.
The Shoprite Group is committed to fighting hunger across South Africa and has since 2015 partnered with 119 community food gardens and 475 home gardens, benefitting over 28 000 people.