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How FoodForward South Africa is fighting hunger and food waste

South Africa produces enough food for all of its people.

We have a net surplus, in fact.

Yet, that food traditionally ends up in a landfill while 30 million South Africans go hungry every month. And, sadly, our country has the highest rate of child malnutrition in the world (27.5 percent).


There are a number of factors, but food waste is the big one.

Food manufacturers do not currently have an incentive to donate excess food from within their supply chains. In fact, since there are liability concerns, they are less likely to donate surplus food. FoodForward South Africa is working with stakeholders to get legislation passed that would incentivize these companies to donate, which includes liability protection.

In the meantime, our organization has developed a couple of ways to help put excess food into the hands of people in need.

New technology

Our organization developed proprietary software called FoodShare, that connects our beneficiary organizations within a 5 kilometer to retail stores across the country for the collection of edible surplus food.

FoodForward SA provides surplus food to 2,750 vetted and registered organizations that collectively reach more than 950,000 people on a daily basis.

Mobile rural depot program (MRD)

We have warehouse in eight provinces across South Africa, concentrated in urban centers, where the surplus food is. But we have a specific MRD program focusing on the rural poor, covering more than 250 remote towns and villages through 35 mobile depots across the country, reaching around 75,000 people monthly.

Sometimes, our staff drive six to eight hours to make a food drop. Although that means higher fuel costs and more time, it is still more efficient than building brick-and-mortar locations in these communities.

One of the very first communities we targeted was in the Western Cape, because they had one of the worst cases of child malnutrition in the country. We’re starting to see changes in the statistics there since we began our mobile depot program, which encourages us.

School breakfast

The bedrock of our hunger support continues to be school breakfast programs in partnership with Kellogg, which we began nine years ago.

We provide roughly 50 schools (more than 30,000 children) with a Kellogg cereal and milk every day. The partnership continues to be a powerful, tangible way we’re able to make a daily impact.

As FoodFoward South Africa enters its 14th year, we are as inspired as ever to reach more vulnerable people. The legislation I mentioned earlier will be a big piece of this. Between our technology platform to identify excess food, our mobile rural program and our other efforts, we hope to create better days for 1.5 million vulnerable people by 2025.

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