STATEMENT BY THE MAKHANDA CIRCLE OF UNITY FOOD GROUP
The Makhanda Circle of Unity Food Group has just packed the last distribution of grocery parcels to the vulnerable people of Makhanda/Grahamstown. Since 11 April, the Food Group has distributed 5 138 weekly grocery parcels and a further 2 200 boxes of groceries prepacked by donors (HCI and Corona Care). In total then the equivalent of 7 338 weekly parcels have gone out to the vulnerable people of Makhanda.
A committee has been set up which is separate from The Makhanda Circle of Unity Food Group to decide on how the remaining money in the Makana Revive Covid-food account is to be spent. It was felt by some that it would not be ethical for all the money collected for food in this Makana Revive account to be channeled into one initiative. It was also felt that community kitchens were a more cost-effective option moving forward.
A larger food security cluster has been formed under the umbrella of the Circle of Unity with Tim Bull as the interim head with the mandate to look into food security in Makhanda as a broader issue, and to co-ordinate the various food initiatives.
More community kitchens are being established in many parts of Makhanda (24 distribution points to date) and school feeding schemes will hopefully resume next week for grades 7 and 12 at least, as well as the rollout of government grocery parcels in the near future, so the gap in food availability which we helped fill in April and May should be narrowed by these and other initiatives in June and July.
The money in the CSD account which is left over and which was so generously donated by the citizens and businesses of Grahamstown/Makhanda and from many parts of South Africa and overseas, will be used to fund a cellphone food voucher scheme through Checkers which we will administer. (Now that people can move around more easily vouchers enable people to buy food with more dignity and choice than receiving a pre-selected grocery pack).
We may also use some of the money to support community kitchens, help fund Food4Futures food distribution, and the Grahamstown Feeding Association (which had to close during phases 4 and 5 of lockdown). This remaining money will therefore be put to good food provision use and will help keep our promise to you that your money would go towards making food available to the needy in our town.
We would like to thank the following organisations, businesses and individuals for their invaluable help over these two months.
- Joubert Retief and the PJ community for giving us our packing venue and providing so much support during this time.
- All the volunteer distributors who went out each week to deliver grocery parcels.
- The volunteer drivers who used their own petrol, negotiated poor roads, and came back week after week.
- The volunteer packers who came in their numbers every week.
You have been committed and supportive throughout, and we certainly could not have done the distributions without all you volunteers. Thank you.
- Legends, Pick and Pay, Shoprite, Spar and Foricco Ltd Food Suppliers who looked for specials for us, provided packers and sorters at various times, and whose speed and efficiency in handling 20 kg bags, boxes filled with beans, soap, and trays of pilchards as they swung through the air, was a sight to behold.
- HiTec who offered to sponsor an overnight guard at our packing venue to ensure food security. We all slept easier knowing they were there.
- Siyakubonga and Digs to Digs for their invaluable help with transport and delivery.
- Brian Garman from the Rhodes School of Journalism and Media Studies who together with student Gugu Vundla, designed logos and poster for our facebook page.
- Hayley Alfers who set up and designed our facebook page.
- Joe Alfers for his hard work in continuously updating and maintaining the distribution list spreadsheet.
- Viv de Klerk who helped with the distribution list spreadsheet by capturing so meticulously, the names of new recipients each week.
- The CSD and RUCE for partnering with us in this process.
- The River Rescue account run by Helen Holleman which we have found invaluable for helping individuals who have fallen through the net. It was also used to help four soup kitchens to start up in the beginning and keep going for the first six weeks of lockdown.
- The many, many principals, religious leaders, and NGOs who assisted with the identification of vulnerable families and the packing and distribution process.
- Ubunye and Lebone Centre who assisted us in getting the HCI parcels.
- Corporate funders, local businesses and churches who gave so generously – the Kagiso Trust, the HCI Foundation, Corona Care, NISC, Makhana Brick, Karara, Rotary Grahamstown, Rotary UK, Aquatic Ecosystem services, Assurity Consultants, College of the Transfiguration, African Musical Instruments, GTN Judges, Business Sense, Makana Tourism, Ambuvent Pty Ltd, Big Canary Pty Ltd, NG Kerk Albany, St Bartholomew’s Church.
- The citizens of Grahamstown who gave so generously to this worthy cause.
- The Makhanda Circle of Unity Food Group committee (or team as we like to think of ourselves), who gave 100% in time and commitment and whose support was solid gold through our toughest times.
Editor’s note: details of the new food distribution committee and its activities may be found by reading the post below: