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SA Harvest and Daily Maverick plant seeds of change: A heartwarming partnership that fed the Eastern Cape


A remarkable tale of compassion and empowerment unfolded in the heart of the Eastern Cape during December 2023.

As the holiday season approached, communities across the Eastern Cape faced a daunting challenge: the closure of schools and Early Childhood Development centres. For many children, this meant the prospect of going without their one guaranteed meal during the break. Some children only get one meal a day from nutrition programmes. 1 in 3 households in the Eastern Cape are food insecure and 1 in 4 children in the Eastern Cape stunted due to lack of access to nutritious food.

Enter SA Harvest and Daily Maverick, two forces for good that joined hands to tackle this pressing issue head-on. Leveraging existing data and the tireless efforts of a dedicated team, SA Harvest embarked on a mission to identify and support the most vulnerable families in the region.

Through meticulous door-to-door visits and data analysis, SA Harvest and Daily Maverick compiled target lists and vetted families within communities like Lusikisiki, Bizana, Flagstaff, Port St Johns, and Mthatha. These are just some of the areas where the need was most acute, where families were counting on a lifeline to see them through the holiday season.

At-risk families in these districts are often grandparents who are looking after their grandchildren on a single pension, undocumented families who are struggling to access social grants and child-headed households where young people have to look after their siblings due to the deaths of grandparents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to escalating food and travel costs the buying power of the old age pension, disability and child grants have diminished dramatically during 2023 and 2024. Nutritional programmes, like soup kitchens, had to reduce their days and beneficiaries which meant that many went into the December holidays not knowing where their food was going to come from.

Unemployment in the Eastern Cape is currently around 40% and youth unemployment is close to 60%. So the situation was dire.

The Lusikisiki team, comprising nine graduates, emerged as the driving force behind this noble endeavour. These graduates, once facing the harsh reality of unemployment, are in the midst of a transformative journey that has seen them undergo intensive training through an entrepreneurial incubator initiative. They work with the communities on the ground and with their community organisations which SA Harvest has been working with for over two years. For this young team no task was too big or too small.

Their training, delivered by SA Harvest’s Joburg team, has covered a wide spectrum of essential tasks, from beneficiary vetting to warehouse maintenance, health, and safety protocols, and first aid. Coupled with this and based on SA Harvest’s understanding that agriculture holds immense, untapped potential as a powerful catalyst for achieving the twin goals of food security and poverty reduction within the region, the young Lusikisiki team have also completed a National Certificate in Plant Production, equipping them to become agri-entrepreneurs in the future. 

Turning back to our story of the prospect of a bleak and hungry December in the Eastern Cape, another partner entered to bring essential support to this noble campaign. Boxer Superstores, SA Harvest’s ‘go-to’ for purchasing of food parcel ingredients, went above and beyond the call of duty, packing the food parcels at store level during their busiest season, and even helping to deliver the parcels in some areas.

The Lusikisiki team, armed with their newfound expertise, took charge of the delivery of food parcels to 2 000 families across the Eastern Cape, an initiative made possible by the generous donations of Daily Maverick readers who responded to the call for funding initiated by Daily Maverick. Their contributions provided the necessary resources to make a meaningful impact in the lives of thousands of families in the Eastern Cape and to ensure sustenance for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, bridging the gap until schools could safely reopen their doors. 

And here’s where the story takes an even more exciting turn: Through their partnership with Daily Maverick, SA Harvest secured a groundbreaking relationship with the IThemba Kuluntu NGO in the Pondoland region, near Port St. Johns.

This partnership isn’t just about providing immediate relief; it’s about building sustainable solutions for the future. Together, they’re establishing a small commercial farm and training centre, empowering communities with the skills and knowledge needed to support school soup kitchens and advocate for better education standards.

This incredible journey of resilience and empowerment is a reminder that change begins with a single act of kindness, and together, we can make a world of difference.

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