Food4Futures says NO to hunger in Makhanda! – By Mzwandile Prince Mamaila

By Mzwandile Prince Mamaila

Food parcel recipients waiting in line outside the Food4Futures premises. Source: Food4Futures.

Makhanda is a small town in the Eastern Cape formally known as Grahamstown. It is dominated by educational institutions, with Rhodes University being one of them. The town is also known for the annual National Arts Festival, which has been showcasing various artistic acts for the past 49 years.

There are no major industries to employ citizens and municipal intervention has all but collapsed, leaving the town in a cronic state of poverty.

In an attempt to decrease starvation in the community, Mary Birt founded an NPO known as Food4Futures. “We are really committed to helping the lives of people who are unemployed and who do not have enough food to sustain themselves and their families,” stated Birt.

Formally founded in September 2019, Food4Futures has been distributing food to 900 – 1000 residents daily using various methods;

  • People come to their premises to collect food parcels and sandwiches.
  • “Parking for parcels” vouchers, these are vouchers purchased by drivers and the public and can be used to pay parking attendants instead of using actual cash. The parking attendants can use these vouchers to collect food from the NPO. They have varying vouchers beginning from R5. Each voucher determines the food parcel one receives.
  • “Care for community project,” where food is delivered to people who are physically or mentally challenged.

Birt believes that part of the organization’s purpose is to create a strong bond with the community to ameliorate loneliness and low self-esteem. “The way that Food4Futures started was by realizing how badly people need to be up-lifted in terms of their self–esteem, the fact that they don’t feel like real people because they are seen as a nuisance, as a beggar, and we have made some amazing connections with people because our first motive is to give, to be kind, to be generous of spirit, to be empathetic.”

Due to financial challenges, the NPO strategizes innovative ways that will convince people to raise money. One way to do so is through orchestrating events, with the latest one being “Beat the load-shedding BLUES” on the 19th of October. A relaxed musical show and picnic, hosted at the 1820s Settlers Monument. The show consists of performances by the talented musical groups Genesis and Makhanda Kwantu Choir.

A poster of Food4Futures upcoming event. Source: Food4Futures Facebook page

The schools play a vital role in the collection of food resources for the NPO by donating sandwiches, and some “jars of joy”, these are jars layered with different food ingredients, such as rice and lentils.

Birt hints at great plans for growing the organization, and with your assistance, Food4Futures can surely feed for decades to come. People can visit the NPO’s website and see how they can lend a helping hand.