Foodflows providing food to vulnerable communities

Foodflows providing food to vulnerable communities

Date: June 22, 2020
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By Palesa Motsumi,

Capetwon, 19 June, In this jolting precarious time, we have witnessed catastrophic shifts in the economy and in our society, posing a threatening shortage of essential goods supplied by the agricultural sector.

A recent article published by Brookings, a public policy organization, cited a range of factors that cause the devastating recurring food crises on the African continent – climate change and conflict made the list, highlighting the severity of the context many people find themselves in. The latter, contributing to the ever increasing number of broken families and displaced persons, specifically women and children.

 In an age where we have been led to believe that the people are the ones to unburden themselves from today’s societal ills, food insecurity seems likely to be a consistent item on the agenda of the African Union member states having committed on 16 April 2020 to take action for the sake of its fellow citizens. The article also suggests the importance of beginning luminous, innovative conversations and creating sustainable activities to strengthen organisations which support food security in Africa – many trailblazing initiatives have been formed, everyday, worldwide.

Foodflow, based in Cape Town, South Africa, is such an initiative founded by Iming Lin, together with an ally, Ashley Newell to assist small – scale farmers in providing fresh produce to communities that need it the most. It was also an opportunity for Daniel Sher, head designer of sustainable fashion brand and manufacturing company, Good Good Good to get involved to keep his business afloat, while creatively forging new ways to engage his customer base, using social media. The partnership has galvanised a formidable community of partners and recipients, illustrating recalibration of the words, ‘philanthropy’ and ‘collaboration’, both of which can be overused and undermined in a global crisis.

With African Union member states’ various attempts to alleviate hunger in poor communities, the future of agricultural food imports continues to be of concern however, increased focus has been on small – scale farmers whose predicament is to not only supply local produce to their clients but also feed themselves.

With the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa, Iming Lin, who is a specialist vegetable and herb farmer, realized many of her restaurant clients were having to close their doors at the same time that schools were also closing and no longer offering the meal support that so many children rely on. She had the idea of seeing if they could raise funding through the sponsorship of harvest bags to redirect the food that would have been sold to restaurants into the communities that needed it the most during this time. To date over 11 000 harvest bags have been collected which have fed over 30 communities in need.

We delved into this with Ashley Newell, Co – founder of Foodflow.

1.Why was it important to collaborate with creatives during this time?

This massive global challenge we’re all facing, while overwhelming and scary, is also offering us an opportunity to come together (even while being apart) and everyone has something they can contribute. Artists and designers, like Good Good Good have lent their talents to raise awareness and funding for our work and it has been really inspirational to see how everyone has jumped at the opportunity to contribute and be a part of supporting small-scale farmers and ensuring those who are experiencing food insecurity are getting nutritious fresh food.

2. As a sustainable food service. What has been the biggest challenge since inception?

Large scale food aid predominantly focuses on canned and dried food from large scale producers which can cut out the small-scale farmers and put them at risk of losing their businesses. There are also health and safety considerations for all essential workers during this time and not many small-scale farmers have the means to prepare for these challenges or the economic freedom to make the choice to put their business on pause. Additionally, as are many people across the country who were already living hand- to- mouth, are now experiencing rapidly increasing food insecurity – the demand for food support has sky-rocketed. We want to work to support farmers to continue supplying food into their own communities and we have managed to shift the food flow to keep farmers farming and many additional people fed.

3. What has been donating food packages to your initiative?

We have seen every type of person looking for a way to help, particularly at the start of lockdown where many people were having to adjust to being at home and struggling to know what they could do while stuck in a place. Sponsoring a harvest bag is a great way to know you’re sending food to a family in need. We are also very grateful to everyone who has been spreading the word and getting creative about how they can rally their friends and family to also support businesses and creatives offering a percentage of their sales towards our cause.

4. How has the partnership that you have created with Good Good Good been economically beneficial to the farming community?

Good Good Good has sponsored harvest bags through the sale of their t-shirt designs so far which is really fantastic. This ensures a farmer has an income of R5,640 for the week to sustain their business and support their family and even further, families have a bag full of veggies to make healthy meals which enables them to put some of their own money towards other essential needs, so there is a long chain of benefits.

You can keep updated by following  @foodflowza and @goodgoodgood on Instagram

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