Zero2Five Trust reaches out to 4 000 KZN families with holiday and nutrition club.
It is hard to imagine that while many will be eating far too much during Christmas celebrations, thousands of young children will go to bed hungry this festive season.
This year, in light of escalating inflation, Kloof-based Zero2Five Trust has ramped up its annual festive season nutritional programme for the long December break.
“This is a critical part of our efforts to eliminate child hunger and malnutrition. We have scaled up our well-established nutrition programme in the light of the current, ongoing food security crisis and have provided 4000 of our KZN families with a 5 kg bag of highly fortified breakfast porridge, providing 100 meals per child,” explains Julika Falconer, CEO of Zero2Five Trust.
Zero2Five is also hosting “holiday clubs” at three venues in uThukela and iLembe, playing fun games and serving three meals per day throughout the holidays for 450 children.
Rather than based on emotion, Falconer says that the holiday camps and nutrition programme have stemmed from yearlong research into child malnutrition and stunting. This has shown that the six week December holiday period is not a happy time for children to recharge their batteries for the new school year.
She points out that an estimated 65% of households in the province depend on regular school meals for their children to grow and develop. With schools closed, this resource is unavailable.
The Household Affordability Index by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity group (PMBEJD) shows that food prices have continued to soar in South Africa. The group recorded that in their month-on-month assessment, the average cost of the foods prioritized and bought first in the household food basket increased by R23,32 (0,9%) from R2 631,97 in October 2022 to R2 655,28 in November 2022. In a year-on-year comparison, the average cost of the foods prioritized and bought first in the household food basket increased by R362,73 (15,8%) from R2 292,55 in November 2021 to R2 655,28 in November 2022.
“These might just look like numbers to many, but these steep increases come at a time when our poor communities are still recovering from the social unrest and the April floods and when unemployment is at over 65% in most of these communities. These numbers can’t be stretched by buying cheap food with little nutritional value. Families run out of food completely and on a monthly basis,” says Falconer.
To put this into another context, the monthly child support grant was only increased by a meager R 20 this year in April to R 480,00 and therewith remains below the 2022 food poverty line of R 663,00 (per capita). Even more concerning, this is a staggering 43% below the average cost of R 826,65 needed to secure a basic nutritious diet for a child in November 2022.
Falconer says Zero2Five is grateful for the Victor Daitz Foundation’s generosity and would also like to thank Willowton Group which has provided rice, cooking oil and soap bars for this programme and Illovo Sugar SA which supplied 1 ton of maize, 100 grocery buckets and 100 lucky packs.
Mother Phindile Ndlovu is delighted about this offering: “ We would like to convey our gratitude to Zero2Five and their donors for such a wonderful programme and entertainment which is keeping our children safe and well fed during the festive season.”
ECD owner Kwazi Kheswa: “ The holiday club helps us gather our children in a safe place and help especially the many who arrive on an empty stomach with some extra, much-needed meals. They will be well taken care of and entertained. Huge thank you for a successful launch today.”
For more information contact Julika Falconer on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: Rogan Ward