Durban, KwaZulu Natal. 20 September 2022. The number of hunger-related deaths amongst children five years old and under is on the rise in South Africa. Since the start of 2022, hundreds of children in this age group have succumbed due to malnutrition and hunger with the biggest contributing factors being poverty and lack of household food security. A recent report citing research undertaken by Wits University indicated that KwaZulu Natal is worst affected by hunger-related child deaths, followed by the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
In response to this reality, Tiger Brands has initiated Isondlo, a child nutrition programme, at a cost of R42 million. The initiative will support 10 000 children aged five and under and their families, who are food insecure, with a monthly food hamper for a period of 9 months. The monthly food hamper is designed to meet the nutritional needs of children aged 5 and under and support a family of four to five individuals. In addition to the monthly food hamper, each family will receive a once-off vegetable garden starter kit in their first hamper distribution. This also aligns with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund sustainable livelihoods program that addresses the poverty issues of the communities where children are located. “As Tiger Brands, we will not be an onlooker to combatting child hunger. We see it as a moral obligation to make a difference in improving food security in our communities. Our children will determine what a future South Africa will look like, and we must play our part in contributing to a future where there is no child hunger. A future in which our children are resilient and in which they are able to live to their fullest potential because we collectively acted when they were young,” says Dr Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Chairman, Tiger Brands. Hunger is a daily challenge for close to 12-million people in South Africa. In a country where more than a third of the food produced goes to waste, Tiger Brands has made a commitment through Isondlo to ensure that children under five years receive the nutritional requirements to support their healthy development.
Tiger Brands has partnered with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund as an enabling partner with the resources and national reach required to implement the programme. The organisation quickly brought on board 19 grassroots implementing NGOs in 17 districts across the country to assist with identifying food insecure families. These grassroots implementing partners provide access to support the distribution infrastructure and processes needed to deliver the food hampers to the 10 000 children and their families, including those in far-flung areas.
Table 1: Number of Beneficiaries per Province
“The Fund has partnered with Tiger Brands as part of our Child Survival Development and Thriving Programme aimed at improving the mortality rate and the development of children under 5 through various interventions. Isondlo will allow us to ensure that children in this age group get the proper nutrition that they need in order to grow and develop optimally” says Dr Stanley Maphosa, Interim CEO, Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
The 10 000 monthly Isondlo food hampers to benefit the child beneficiaries and their families for a period of nine months, are in addition to the 35 000 food hampers the company distributes monthly as part of its existing food nutrition programmes.
Tiger Brands’ Isondlo will see vulnerable households identified across the country receive a monthly food package containing food items carefully selected by Tiger Brands’ Corporate Nutritionist, all of which more than sufficiently caters for basic nutrition requirements. In 2021, Tiger Brands celebrated its centenary, marking 100 years in which the company’s brands have found a regular place in the homes of millions of South Africans. With the launch of Isondlo, Tiger Brands is strengthening its commitment to improving food security and sustainable livelihoods as it embarks on a second century of nourishing and nurturing lives in South Africa and into Africa.
“Isondlo addresses a real need in our society – to support our future generation. As Africa’s largest food manufacturer, we are committed to ensuring food security and sustainable livelihoods, and having marked our centenary last year, postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we find the launch of the programme an appropriate way to celebrate this milestone,” says Dr Fraser-Moleketi.