May 27,2020, Johannesburg, South Africa - Millions of people around the world suffer from chronic hunger, despite abundant global food production. In fact, 820 million people globally do not have enough to eat – with 54% of South Africans going hungry or at risk of hunger. And with the loss of income resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic there are indicators that this may lead to higher levels of food insecurity in SA. In fact, recent news around desperate pleas for emergency food parcels is a clear indication of this, making World Hunger Day on the 28th of May ever more relevant.
“Chronic hunger goes hand in hand with poverty,” says Dr Marc Aguirre, Country Director & Regional Technical Advisor at HOPE worldwide. “Persistent shortages of food are linked to deep seated social inequalities and we are seeing a rapidly deteriorating landscape of hunger and poverty right here on our doorstep. Tragically, children are bearing the brunt of the hunger pandemic with millions stunted and wasted, and their futures are in jeopardy.”
Hunger and poverty are inextricably linked to a host of issues that affect people’s health and with a pandemic on our doorstep, while the fight against hunger is not a new one, with the country’s economic climate worsening, threatening the livelihoods of many, action must be taken to help those in need.
“The World Food Programme has indicated that there is a risk of a hunger pandemic as COVID-19 is set to almost double acute hunger by end of 2020,” adds Aguirre. “As such, getting food aid right has never been more critical. Now more than ever we need to look at the social compact, join the forces of the public, private and NPO sectors and build out a targeted and sustainable network of feeding schemes – ones that target and reach the most vulnerable.”
Despite world leaders looking to end hunger and poverty by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and some progress being made, South Africa’s distribution of food is inadequate in terms of scale and reach. And no one knows that more than KFC Add Hope who have been working with a network of beneficiaries for over 11 years to make a real difference and break the cycle.
KFC’s Add Hope initiative provides 30 million meals per year to over 150,000 children – supporting more than 140 different non-profit organisations. These are for the most part, early childhood development centres and school feeding schemes and include several organisations with a national footprint as well as smaller organisations which service specific communities.
“We have a critical responsibility to act in the interest of South Africa and this means continuing to support the communities which we serve, as well as amplifying efforts at such a critical time, through our Add Hope programme,” says Andra Nel, CSI manager at KFC.
To date, due to continued efforts by our beneficiary organisations on the ground, KFC Add Hope has been able to steadily increase the reach and scale of its relief feeding efforts with over 2 million meals distributed and 35 049 emergency food parcels delivered to over 9 provinces – reaching over 175 000 people with 560 tonnes of food.
“The response to our food crisis needs to move beyond the role of the NPOs and charity towards empowering change agents, mobilising people at grass root levels and forging effective and meaning partnerships with local governments. It is only then that we are going to see a significant turn in the hunger crisis,” adds Nel.
“It’s not just about food. Hunger and poverty affect people’s health, education, dignity and ability to live full productive lives – creating a larger societal divide and impacting South Africa’s ability to move forward. Today, more than ever, we need to look at mechanisms that address the inequality in access to food – one that tackles transformation and ensures food is a basic right – especially for children,” concludes Aguirre.