In just 10 days, farmers and business people in the Lidgetton area set up a feeding scheme and distributed 1 100 food parcels to needy families. The Midlands Food Bank project has the backing of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and local government.
Under the watchful eye of the SAPS and members of the SA Red Cross, volunteers of all ages ensured that recipients kept to social distancing rules and had their hands sanitised. Each person was also given a Midlands Food Bank ID card to ensure that the food parcels went to families identified by uMngeni Municipality Ward 4 Councillor Desmond Nkuna and a team of community health workers.
“We created a database,” Nkuna said, “starting with those with no income, then moving to those who had a little bit and then those in a better situation, but still needy. We also looked at the size of the families.” The Councillor praised all those who had joined the Midlands Food Bank project, donating money, food and their time to help those living in the Lidgetton and Curries Post areas. “I am very thankful to the local farmers and the business community, and especially to Riaz [Nakooda, owner of Mamma’s Chickens], who provided us with a warehouse and cold-rooms, dedicated staff and trucks,” he added. Celine Erasmus, spokesperson for the Midlands Food Bank, echoed his thanks to Nakooda, who grew up in Lidgetton and continues to help those living in the area. His business, Mamma’s Chicken, is situated in the heart of the village and produces halaal farmfresh chicken.
Both Nkuna and the Midlands Food Bank view the Covid 19 pandemic, which has brought South Africa and the world to a virtual standstill, as a serious challenge to society and one which cannot be ignored. The councillor said the lockdown had revealed how many people needed help and that it was important to do something proactive to prevent “hungry people from becoming an angry mob”. On Saturday 25th April 2020, the Midlands Food Bank handed out 700 food parcels, packed by an army of volunteers. A further 400 parcels, donated by the SA Muslim Association, were also given to those in need.
Four sites were used to distribute the food parcels, which contained bread, eggs, oil, vegetables, 500g of chicken or mince and mielie meal — enough food to last a family roughly three to four weeks. Erasmus said the aim of the organisation was to feed 1 000 families per month in and around Lidgetton, and to keep the project running for the next four to six months