By Jessie Taylor  

Mandela Day: Join hands in overcoming food insecurity

July brings with it an opportunity for South Africans, and the world, to reflect on ways of improving our fellow citizen’s lives with the annual remembrance of former president Nelson Mandela.

In the wake of the Covid-19, many South Africans have been left without income and job security, due to the economic burden created by the pandemic.


The enduring effects of the pandemic

Madiba, as South Africa’s first democratically elected president in 1994, is known as a champion of reconciliation. After retiring, Madiba continued his humanitarian work, advocating on issues such as global peace, children and the fight against HIV and AIDS.

In 2010, the first Mandela Day was held and citizens were called to donate 67 minutes of their time to community service – one minute for every year Madiba spent fighting for social justice.

This Nelson Mandela International Day, which is celebrated annually on the late statesman’s birthday of 18 July, South African’s are called to work together in tackling food insecurity.

For Nelson Mandela International Day 2021, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has called attention to patterns of poverty and inequality that have been deepened by Covid-19 – especially as the numbers of those going hungry have increased.

Estimates say that almost half of adult South Africans surveyed in late 2020 said that their households had often gone to bed hungry during the Covid-19 pandemic. This was as a result of not having enough funds to purchase food. One of the factors impacting household wealth has been the high unemployment rate, or people being unable to attend work, due to the pandemic. 

These statistics are compounding a problem faced by South Africans before the pandemic. Research indicates that before Covid-19, one in four six-year-olds in South Africa suffered from stunting due to malnutrition.

“While the Mandela Day call to action remains a general call to reach out to those in need, this year, our focus will be on the challenge of food security,” the Foundation said.

“By harnessing our Each1Feed1 programme to Mandela Day and developing the 4Cans4MandelaDay campaign, we aim to ensure that basic foodstuffs reach the most vulnerable communities this July. In the longer term, we are committed to using our research and advocacy capacity to address the systemic issues which cause food insecurity in our country.”


Creating value to donations

Nelson Mandela International Day gives companies a chance to channel their funds towards, and encourage their employees to participate in, social organisations in need of assistance. The culture of giving back is strongly rooted among South African corporates, even in times of economic hardships.

The amount local businesses put towards Corporate Social Investment (CSI) in 2020 increased, despite the economic downturn. Many businesses stepped up in response to Covid-19, offering relief through donations to government programmes and community outreach initiatives.

But businesses are not always sure where to channel their funding to create an impact, which is why partnering with organisations such as the Nelson Mandela Foundation can offer real value.


Each 1 Feed 1 Programme

The Foundation’s Each 1 Feed 1 programme was launched in 2020 to meet the immediate needs of vulnerable communities deeply affected by Covid-19. This will continue to be a focus this year, with partnering businesses able to address the immediate challenge of families that do not have access to food.  Beneficiaries have included child-headed households, orphaned families, the elderly, people who are informally employed in the ECD workforce as well as people living with disabilities. The food pack has historically been robust and nutritious, capable of supporting a family of five for at least a month.

On Mandela Day, the Nelson Mandela Foundation will be at the Ikageng Itereleng Aids Ministry, a social welfare centre in Soweto, Johannesburg for another Each 1 Feed 1 distribution.

Companies and individuals can also donate to #4Cans4Mandela Day, by donating non-perishable food items at all participating malls for Mandela Day. These will be supplied to the Each 1 Feed 1 food network for donation.

But various independent organisations can benefit from assistance this Mandela Day – ranging from school feeding programmes to soup kitchens – that offer assistance to communities in which your business may operate.

Each donation – of time, money, or food – will go towards reducing the impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable communities and those who may have lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic.

*Check out the latest edition of the Public Sector Leaders publication here.

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