While visiting their packing shed last week, where about 20 volunteers were in full swing, unloading, sorting and packing food parcels, it struck me that, at Food4Love, every day is Mandela Day. Started four months ago by Natalie Munro, this ‘I, We, Together’ project soon drew like-minded people together who have dedicated an enormous amount of time and effort to bring food relief to all who need it – in Hermanus and beyond.

Some of the members of the Food4Love family include Jaci Less, Natalie Munro, Caroline Gabb, Leandri van Schalkwyk, Madeleine Vermaak, Julius Snell
Photo: Hedda Mittner

Concerned about the impact that the lockdown would have on vulnerable households throughout the region, Natalie says she realised on Day 1 that she couldn’t just “sit there and do nothing”. With the support of her family, she set off to the shops and started filling the first trolleys that would become Food4Love.

“Food4Love is not an organisation,” she emphasises, “it’s a movement – an action to love, be compassionate and kind. It was born out of the simple concept of feeding those in need, just for love. And I think it keeps growing because love is the best medicine on earth.”

Mike and Elaine Bayer of The Beanery, who have for many years initiated and supported several charitable community initiatives, and William Ntebe of the Zwelihle Youth Café, immediately jumped on board and have been giving their unwavering support ever since. Together they teamed up with Relief.Life, Disaster Management and the Red Cross to ensure that the food items were distributed to those in greatest need.

“The response was incredible and we received donations, both in the form of funds and food stuffs, from so many generous individuals, businesses, churches and farmers,” says Natalie. “And volunteers came from everywhere!”

William Ntebe.
Photo: Hedda Mittner

Still they worried that the food parcels were not reaching all those households that were left without an income and had hungry mouths to feed. “Some people were still falling through the cracks and we wanted to make sure that we were able to answer every call for help,” says Natalie.

“Although there are several soup kitchens operating at the moment, which are playing a vital role, we realised that they present a short-term solution. Supplying households with basic food stuffs such as maize, vegetables and fruit would empower them to make their own choices and prepare their own food. We thought it was a safer and more dignified way of assisting people in their own homes, rather than having them stand in line to receive a single meal.”

Food4Love now comprises a group of compassionate volunteers whom Natalie refers to as “people with huge hearts”, with each bringing their own skills, personalities, enthusiasm and energy into the Food4Love family. “There’s a sense of belonging and warm friendships have been formed,” she says. “Funding is not used for a singular purpose as there are different needs in different areas, so we have assisted in various capacities, including the distribution of toiletries, dog food, sandwiches and food stuffs for local soup kitchens.”

However, the main order of business, every day, six days a week, is preparing the veggie packs that each contain two cups of maize and a mix of vegetables and fruit – to the tune of at least 1 000 packs a day – and which provide enough food for four meals. “So far, we have distributed 240 tons of vegetables and 31 tons of maize straight to the homes of those who need food, regardless of who they are or where they live,” says Natalie.

Madeleine Vermaak. PHOTO: Hedda Mittner

But funding is now needed, more than ever, to ensure that Food4Love can continue to help people who have lost so much during this pandemic. Working closely with Angela Heslop, Food4Love is proud to be endorsed by the Red Cross, which is “impartial and supports work to render services to prevent and alleviate human suffering, in particular the feeding programmes that are responsive to hunger arising from poverty and unemployment during the Covid-19 crisis”.

Donations can be made to the following account: SA Red Cross, Standard Bank, Account no. 082261938, Branch code 050 312, Swift Code: SBZAZAJJ, Reference: Covid-19/FOOD4LOVE. Please send proof of payment to nataliemunro@icloud.com

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