Meal ‘packathon’ feeds thousands

Volunteers, from left, are Jolene Palmer, Michelle Campbell, Yvonne Brookes, Siddeeqah Goliath and Carolyn Clark.

More than 100 000 meals were packed for the poor at Kenilworth Centre on Saturday.

This was the 10th year Kenilworth Centre played host to Rise Against Hunger’s meal “packathon”.

From 9am to 4pm, more than 450 volunteers packed 100 656 meals – more than double the
50 000 from last year.

Rise Against Hunger is an international hunger-relief organisation that distributes food and aid to the poor. Its goal is to end world hunger by 2030.

According to the organisation’s Shanaaz Stoffberg, they deliver
70 000 meals daily to townships and informal settlements, focusing on unregistered pre-schools as these are often run by women who happen to be at home. “We have found that malnutrition in a child’s foundation-phase-schooling years, can disrupt their learning later in life.”

They had found that children at the unregistered pre-schools weren’t being stimulated or getting proper meals.

Ms Stoffberg said they worked with the Early Learning Resource Unit (Elru), a non-profit organisation in Lansdowne, to meet the children’s educational needs.

The packathon was part of the One Million Plus One campaign to pack one million and one meal packs by World Hunger Day, October 16 2020.

Expresso TV presenter Graeme Richards was the MC at the event. He has been involved with Rise Against Hunger for several years.

“Ten to 20 children die due to starvation every day in South Africa. We have to unite as a nation to bring an end to these tragic statistics – and through Rise Against Hunger, we’re making progress,” he said.

Ms Stoffberg said the Kenilworth Centre packathon was the biggest to date. A total of 240 000 meals had been packed at similar events in Brackenfell, Kuils River and Table Bay, she said.

Volunteer Quanita September from Livingstone High School’s welfare society, said they took part in many charity events to give back to the community and they wanted to be part of this event to make a difference.

Nine-year-old Jared le Roux, of Kewtown, said he and his mother regularly handed out food packs to those in need during the Christmas period.

“I wanted to help pack food for children who don’t have, so they can also have a healthy meal,” he said.

Kenilworth Centre manager Michelle Britton said: “We’ve stood alongside Rise Against Hunger since they began 10 years ago. Our goal during the first packathon we hosted in 2009 was 34 000 meal packs.

“This year our aim was 100 000 meal packs.”