SA Harvest’s Journey Towards a Hunger-Free South Africa

“No one ever goes to sleep with an empty stomach in our community due to the help we are getting from SA Harvest. Crime has dropped in our community because people have something to eat. Before SA Harvest assisted us, we were cooking only three days a week, but since SA Harvest took over the fight against hunger, we are operating five days a week.”

—Dumile Magaqa, Mission Thando Soup Kitchen, Durban, South Africa

Dumile feeds 700 people weekly with the support of SA Harvest

Food insecurity is growing around the world every day. In 2022, nearly 258 million people across 58 countries faced crisis or higher levels of food insecurity, according to the World Food Programme. Conflicts, economic shocks, climate extremes, and increasing inequality are all contributing to this change. Food insecurity forces families into distressing choices, and millions of children are dangerously malnourished which negatively impacts their development.

A 2022 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, brings attention to a troubling pattern—global hunger has been on the rise for three consecutive years. This rise is attributed to four main factors: COVID-19, conflict, economic changes (including soaring prices of food), and climate change. The report underscores the significant role international philanthropy can play in addressing this crisis, especially in regions like the Horn of Africa, where the convergence of these factors has escalated hunger into a widespread crisis. It also explores how the COVID-19 pandemic intensified global hunger, impacting between 702 to 828 million people in 2021. Disrupted food supply chains, market closures, and increased prices resulted in 2.3 billion food insecure individuals. Finally, the war in Ukraine further disrupted global agricultural markets causing price spikes, while climate change doubled acute hunger in the ten worst hotspots. These factors also disproportionately affect vulnerable populations and exacerbate poverty and inequality.

Smiling volunteer holds up a cabbage going to a family in need

Image: Smiling volunteer holds up a cabbage going to families in need

Image: Volunteers pack bread and other food items for food-insecure communities

The UN’s most recent 2023 State of Food Security and Nutrition Report further reports on the above issues and focuses on the global trend of mass urbanization. 56% of the global population already lives in cities, and by 2050, almost seven in ten people are projected to live in urban areas. This migration is reducing the availability of vegetables and fruits and increasing the spread of cheap, convenient, and energy dense pre-prepared and fast foods high in fats, sugars and/or salt. The second main theme highlighted is the overconsumption of these highly processed foods increasing in peri-urban and rural areas of many countries, leading to poor nutrition around the globe.

In the ongoing battle against challenges, prioritizing global donations and aid becomes pivotal to addressing world hunger. Fortunately, there are organizations making a difference at local, national, and global levels. SA Harvest, supported by CAF America donors, stands out as a key player in the mission to ensure no person goes to bed on an empty stomach.


Impact In Action: SA Harvest

SA Harvest is a South African-based NGO supporting food rescue and sustainability in food systems while implementing systemic solutions to end hunger across South Africa. Over 12.3 million tons of good food goes to waste every year within the South Africa. That’s 36.3 billion meals, which is enough to feed every one of the twenty million people who are classified as food-vulnerable three nourishing meals a day for almost eighteen months. SA Harvest’s approach revolves around four pillars, with the first being prioritizing food rescue by collaborating with partners across the food chain to ensure nutrition-packed meals reach those in need. The second is addressing systemic issues, as they partner with business leaders and law firms to empower community-based businesses and run education programs. SA Harvest also leverages innovative technology, using a proprietary platform for tracking donations. Most importantly, they focus on sustainable solutions, working to reduce food waste footprints and enhance sustainability for corporates and logistics companies.

Our partnership with SA Harvest has been a long and progressively successful journey. In 2021, CAF America supported SA Harvest in delivering over seven million meals during South Africa’s Level Five lockdown during the Covid-19 Pandemic, addressing immediate needs in the Western Cape, Gauteng, and Kwazulu-Natal regions. These specific grants facilitated the original delivery of 80,000 meals and highlighted the importance of robust systems for transparent reporting and efficient scaling during crises. In 2022, CAF America grants helped with flood relief in KZN, supporting SA Hunger in delivering fifteen million more nutritious meals to those affected. 2022 grants also aided rescuing and redistributing surplus food to those in need. Finally, a portion of the funds enhanced nutritional value by purchasing food, contributing to addressing hunger in South Africa.

Image: SA Harvest rescues food from local farms with unused produce.

Most recently, 2023 CAF America grants supported operational expenses, rent, and salaries for the Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape charity project. The funds facilitated the delivery of 350,000 meals, educated unemployed youth for employment and food independence, and contributed to SA Harvest’s initiative in Lusikisiki. This aid enabled SA Harvest to achieve its goal of fourteen million meals in Gauteng and Lusikisiki, providing sustainable income for unemployed youth and launching a unique project integrating food delivery and systemic solutions to end hunger in South Africa. These grants made towards core costs also helped free up additional funding to fight these systemic issues through advocacy work

“Giving underprivileged people a meal means you are giving them hope. There is nothing productive anyone can do on an empty stomach.”

— Iris Busakwe, Eyardini Community, Cape Town

Iris feeds over 150 people three times a week

Profile of Impact

Alan Browde (CEO and founder SA Harvest)

Alan Browde

Alan Browde (CEO and founder SA Harvest) grew up in Johannesburg. He started his work life on a kibbutz in Israel and returned to South Africa to begin his career at Stellenbosch Farmers Wineries. After joining the Grey Advertising Group as managing director of Grey Action, (the marketing services provider to the group’s clients) he went on to start his own marketing services company which he ran for 25 years before launching SA Harvest. Alan and Ronni Kahn (OzHarvest Founder) grew up as neighbours in Johannesburg and have remained life-long friends.

What impact has SA Harvest achieved to date?

Since our launch in October 2019, we’ve achieved huge milestones, including:

  • 48+ million nutritious meals delivered. Our focus is on delivering nutrition to those in need, not just filling bellies with empty calories. We deliver fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as other groceries including rice, beans, bread, pantry staples and meat.
  • $0.05 is the cost per meal delivered
  • 32+ million lbs of food saved from landfill
  • ~31 million kg CO2 emissions prevented from food waste
  • We service 200+ vetted beneficiaries weekly across the country
What is one campaign you’re proud of?

SA Harvest started #unionagainsthunger to unite people against the injustice of hunger in South Africa. We’ve been supported by a variety of celebrities, chefs, comedians, athletes and business leaders to create awareness about the issue of food waste and hunger. Our ultimate aim for #unionagainsthunger is to turn this awareness into action and stop hunger in South Africa. This hashtag advocates for the following petition:

A Petition of Demand to Government
To end hunger in our country, we, the people of South Africa, demand that a commission be created within the next 90 days to discuss the implementation of the following:

  • Governance: A single, independent Ministry of Food.
  • Food waste and loss: Maximum rescue of food that would have gone to waste.
  • Childhood nutrition: A universal nutrition scheme through Early Childhood Development centers.
  • Access to Food: Fair pricing for a basic basket of nutritious food.
  • Enterprise development: Protection of traders in the informal sector.
  • Financial: Basic Income Grant (BIG) at meaningful monetary levels for all vulnerable South Africans.
  • Basic Services: More effective subsidization of universal access to electricity and water.
What makes SA Harvest unique?

SA Harvest is unique because of the way we work. We’re a reliable conduit for corporates, farmers, people, and volunteers who want to make an impact. We go the extra mile to make sure we minimize as much food waste as possible, and move any donated food to people who need it. Additionally, we provide fully transparent data to support the work we do.

We are also a reliable source of food for our community partners as they can count on us to deliver food regularly. We don’t just donate the one-off odd meal—we consistently provide a balanced variety of food so that our community partners can provide nutrient-dense meals daily to people in their communities, providing regular nutrition and food support.

We believe in the power of grassroots movements, allowing people in the communities to support and empower themselves, as they often know who is in need and how to help them. We’ve built an extensive network of beneficiaries who live in and work for the communities they live in, so they’re fully invested and are often the unofficial moms, dads or grandparents to many in their neighborhoods. They feed their children and adults alike, and are invested to improve the lives of those around them. And providing reliable meals means that people have hope, health and the platform to build functioning, positive communities.

About the Author

  • Margot Cunningham

    Margot Cunningham serves as CAF America’s Officer of Marketing and Communications. Her responsibilities include planning, creating, and implementing marketing and communications strategies, with a focus on building awareness of our mission and engaging prospects and donors with long-form content and event opportunities.

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