When the lockdown regulations were enforced at the beginning of March 2020, many organisations, individuals, businesses and schools stepped up to help vulnerable people who didn’t have access to food.

Two principals in the Simondium area, who happens to be married, were two of these passionate solution-finders, along with the community leaders, church leaders and organisations in their Ward 1.

Liza Matthee from Simondium Primary School and her husband, Clive Matthee from the neighbouring Bergendal Primary School, were the main initiators of the feeding scheme that currently provides meals three times per week to support about 1480 people (1054 children, 426 adults).

Many of their learners were dependant on the meals that they received from their school’s feeding schemes. Whilst suburban schools started handing out meals during lockdown, as per usual from their school grounds, they realised that it wasn’t an option for rural schools.

Most of Simondium’s learners stay far away from their schools, either on farms or in informal settlements, without transport options. They had to make another plan.

If the people couldn’t come to the food, they had to take the food to the people.

Initiating Valuable Distribution and Communication Points

A queue of children waiting for their turn to get a bowl of Briyani at one of the well-organised distribution stations in Simondium.

They established 50 different feeding distribution points at various locations across great distances to reach more beneficiaries and limit the movement of people. Each distribution point has a specific responsible community member that coordinates the collection of ingredients, preparation of the meals, distribution process, sanitising procedures and ensures that all recipients wear masks and keep their social distance.

Our main aim was to get everybody in the community involved to help address the feeding problem. Through this project, greater awareness, connection and involvement has been created between community stakeholders which is wonderful. We now have involved parents on all the farms who not only serve as distribution points for food and homework activities, but also as liaisons concerning learner welfare,” says Liza Matthee.

One of the community volunteers capturing data about the distribution and enforcing Covid-19 hygiene guidelines.

Taking hands with Khula Development Group

Khula Development Group was operating as Valcare’s Covid-19 Food Support partner at the time, and decided to get involved in this remarkable initiative, over and above their normal duties.

At the beginning of lockdown, it was heart-breaking to see how vulnerable communities became even more vulnerable as a result of the closing of schools and massive of amount of unemployment. The desperate need of people compelled Khula Development Group to become involved in this wonderful well-organised project in Simondium which is making a huge difference in a critical time period in our country,” says Carien van Zyl, Principal Social Worker for Khula Development Group.

We would like this project to go on for as long as the need is there, so we are still welcoming any donations,” continues Matthee.

A friendly resident offering her time to server her community.

Valcare’s Food and Nutrition Support Coordinated Effort

As part of Valcare’s Covid-19 Response, 4711 food parcels and 8279 food vouchers were distributed between April 2020 and July 2020 that enabled more than 2 million meals. To read more about the three month summary, click here. Nine soup kitchens are being supported with ingredients that will continue up until the end of August 2020. More than 24 661 meals are provided by these soup kitchens every month.

Valcare serves as the connector to build partnerships amongst members, active community members, the private sector, government and involved NGO’s in identified themes. These partnerships are conducted through Coordinated Efforts, a collective process of listening and learning to work together to address shared challenges and explore shared opportunities in a specific development issue.

All children wear masks and bring their own bowls to receive the meals.

Valcare recently invited relevant member organisations to discuss the status quo of Food and Nutrition-focussed programmes in the Cape Winelands, with special attention given to the conditions within community feeding schemes due to the ongoing effect of Covid-19.

We are currently in the early stages of the discussions, opening up the dialogue to gather information on the processes, circumstances and realities of operating feeding schemes within our communities and investigating collaboration opportunities,” says Mark Schreuder, Programme Manager for Valcare.

Jeremy Schoeman, Community Volunteer; Liza Matthee, Principal of Simondium Primary; Carien de Klerk, Khula Development Group; and Mark Schreuder, Valcare.

For more information or to donate towards the food and nutrition support programme, please contact admin@nationbuilder.co.za.