Food insecurity is a tangible challenge facing our nation, significantly affecting South Africa’s poorest citizens, and impacting children most of all. The heartbreaking impact of hunger on the youth, traps these individuals in a cycle of lost opportunity and educational stunting from which it is nearly impossible to break free. The South African hunger statistics are horrifying: around 6.5 million people struggle with hunger regularly. And of those, 45% under the age of five go to bed hungry or suffer malnutrition and cannot afford a healthy diet. As we commemorate World Food Day on Sunday 16th October – it’s a strong reminder around not only access to food, but its potential.
Andra Nel, Marketing Manager Brand & Purpose at KFC South Africa, points out that hunger is the gate keeper to solving many other societal challenges, since a hungry child can’t grow, learn or thrive. In adulthood, the effects of malnutrition result in individuals underperforming and not contributing to society as much as their potential should allow.
Nel points to Add Hope as the perfect example of how we are so much more powerful as a collective. Small change really does make big change.
“In the last year alone, the R2 Add Hope donations made by the public amounted to more than R60 million. When added to KFC’s contribution of more than R30 million, it is able to fund over 130 non-profit organisations across South Africa, allowing more than 1 000 feeding centres to operate on a daily basis.”
“We have almost 150 000 children that are part of the programme. What is more crucial than the number of kids being fed, is how regularly these youngsters are receiving a meal – that’s food security. The fact is that we’ve served more than 250 million meals since Add Hope began, with a bold ambition to reach the 500 million mark by 2030.”
One of these challenges is that South Africa has one of the highest rates of stunting in the world, sitting at around 27%. Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from chronic malnutrition.
Sue Wildish, Managing Director at The Lunchbox Fund, which partners with the Add Hope programme, notes that if a child has been subjected to ongoing hunger from the day it was born, they are never going to be able to catch up.
“Some 90% of a child’s brain has been configured by the time it’s five years old. From our perspective, the Add Hope funds are very much directed straight into early childhood development nutrition programmes. We support almost 11 000 children every day with a nutritious breakfast or lunch meal with the help of KFC Add Hope – proof that a little donation makes a massive impact. We use every cent of it to put hot, high-quality food into the mouths of our most vulnerable children. Your R2 really is more important than you could imagine.”
Gloria Nkosi, Deputy Country Director of Hope Worldwide South Africa, explains that the partnership with KFC Add Hope has abled them to provide micro food parcels to children in different preschools and communities nationwide.
Wildish notes that the World Bank did a large study globally on the impact of childhood nutrition, and it reckons that for every $1 invested, you get $35 worth of return in the child’s life.
Nel concludes: “Together we can create a snowball effect, in the spirit of ubuntu. We believe our role goes beyond the short term of solving the hunger challenge faced by so many South African children. We also focus on the long-term aspects of physical and mental well-being, and their ability to concentrate better and learn more effectively. After all, this is what will ultimately make them more productive citizens and thus ensure a brighter future for our country as a whole.”