No one in Joburg should go to bed hungry,” Councillor Nonceba Molwele, the City of Johannesburg’s Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Health and Social Development, reiterated during the handover of food parcels to thousands of needy families in Ivory Park on Tuesday August 25.
The MMC was in the area to check on the distribution of food parcels to poor and vulnerable residents of Region A.
The ongoing initiative is part of the City's Agriculture and Food Resilience Programme launched two years ago and spearheaded by Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau.
It is one of the City's 10 priorities aimed at alleviating poverty and inequality in Johannesburg. It is estimated that 42% of the poor in Joburg go without a meal for up three days in a month, which is why the City has made food resilience and agricultural development a priority.
MMC Molwele stressed that the handing out of the food parcels was a short-term strategy that would be followed by a long term approach of assisting indigent families to create their own food gardens so they could be self-sustaining and not continue to rely on food parcels. Tshidi Maponya, Coordinator and Member of the City's Food Resilience Committee, said the distribution of food parcels was not a charitable gesture and should not be misconstrued as creating a dependency syndrome.
She said research showed that food accounted for 60% of the budget of poor households in Johannesburg. She said the programme was making a big difference in the lives of needy families.
"You should just see how happy they are when they receive the food parcels," Maponya said.
Every Tuesday the City hands out a total of 2 777 food parcels to families in Ivory Park's wards 78, 77, 79, 80 and 113. In Diepsloot the programme has 500 beneficiaries. To ensure that beneficiaries embrace a healthy lifestyle, the food parcels include vegetables such as cabbage, onions, carrots, potatoes and butternut.
Ward 78 councillor "Big Joe" Mahlanga said the Food Resilience Programme was of significant assistance, especially in his ward, one of the most economically depressed areas in the city. He said he was somewhat relieved that members of his constituency did not have to go to bed hungry.
He praised Mayor Tau for coming up with the innovative programme. He also thanked MMC Molwele for visiting his ward to see for herself how the programme was being run. One of the beneficiaries, Pinki Makhoba, 64, said she could not thank the City enough for helping her feed her five schoolgoing children. Equally happy was Mpho Butshingi, 55, an unemployed mother of three.
“We’re poor and it's reassuring to know that there are those who empathise with us. Siyabonga,” she said.