Sustainability of soup kitchens one of the greatest challenges as Mandela Day approaches

CAPE TOWN. – The theme of this Nelson Mandela Day is One Hand Can Feed Another. It is a call to action for the people of South Africa to ignite the embers of ubuntu and tackle food insecurity by working together.

One of the warriors at the forefront of the war on hunger is 1000 Women Trust, who started and sustained 45 soup kitchens since 2020, and is still feeding 15000 people per day in and around the Western Cape.

“A central theme of the 45 soup kitchens has been sustainability, which is pivotal as there is significant donor fatigue because some business have closed down and many people have suffered job losses,” said Tina Thiart, a founder member of 1000 Women Trust.

She says some soup kitchens have started Take Aways-services for paying clients or planting vegetables and selling airtime and electricity to create income. One soup kitchen is planning to start a Spaza Shop.

On Mandela Day – 18th July 2021 – volunteers can visit soup kitchens to help by preparing food, marshalling children or help clean pots and pans, said Thiart.

Donors can also donate produce, airtime, electricity or dry products and vegetables, she said.

Latifah Jacobs, a coordinator of the community soup kitchens, said the soup kitchens all serve lunch five days per week, and some even serve breakfast.

Some try and compliment their income by selling Samosas on weekends to pay for their own gas.

Jacobs try and supplement her income by selling jewelry with beads. She does that, as she is responsible for paying for the gas and electricity at Kuils River out of her own pocket.

“The biggest neds of the soup kitchens are ingredients as well as operational costs – we are talking about gas, electricity and airtime, as well as cleaning material for the 300 litre-pots,” she said.

“Donor fatigue is real and present. The City of Cape Town offered support to 60 % of the ingredients in the kitchens until end of June, but now we need new support to ensure that there are ingredients at each of the 45 soup kitchens,” she said.

Currently, 169 volunteers are supporting the soup kitchens.

The soup kitchens are in Kuils River (organization: Aurorah), Stellenbosch (Ubuntu Rural women), Philippi East (Instika Yesizwe Community Development), Masiphumelele (Visionary Can Ladies), Manenberg (Youth for Change Global), Heideveld (Heideveld Can), Kraaifontein (Youth clouds of heaven), Westlake, Tokai (Women of Westlake,org), Bonteheuwel (Joint Peace Forum), Delft (WIN), Elsies River (Jolene’s Foundation), Paarl (Renew Mind), Paarl (Change with Development), Ocean View (Elothando Rens Foundation), Nyanga East (Small Beginnings), Kraaifontein (Deborah Association Organization), Ocean View (Handprints Community Upliftment Proect), Durbanville (NOSTOP), Paarl (Marge Soup Kitchen), Kuils River (Sharing is Caring), Waallecedene (Women’s Movement), Mitchell’s Plaian (Veronica Kitchens), Mitchells Plain (Mitchells Plain Crisis), Thornton (RAM) and Wellington (Arise Women @ Men Circle).

Food insecurity in South Africa is rampant.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification Report (IPC report) revealed that in the period between September and December 2020, 9.34 million people in South Africa, or 16 % of the population, faced high levels of acute food insecurity and required urgent action to reduce food gaps and protect livelihoods.

Of the nine provinces of South Africa, eight: Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Gauteng, North West, Free State, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and Western Cape, were classified in Stressed (IPC Phase 2), and are in need of action for livelihood protection, while Kwa-Zulu Natal Province is classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). South Africa’s deteriorating food security is mainly driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigation measures as well as high food prices, drought and economic decline.  

In the period between January and March 2021, 11.8 million people (20% of the analysed population) are in the crisis. Of the nine provinces analysed, seven provinces, namely Limpopo, North West, Gauteng, Free State, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape, have fallen into crisis (IPC Phase 3), while the Mpumalanga province and Northern Cape remain in IPC Stressed (IPC Phase 2). A large proportion of the South African population need urgent action to reduce food gaps and protect livelihoods. 

“We cannot address the dire socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic without the sustained support of donors, friends, family members and partners of 1000 Women Trust. With your help, we will win the War on Hunger,” said Thiart.

1000 Women Trust has embarked on a campaign to empower women economically with the assistance of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), Pick ‘n Pay and Namakwaland Sitrus to accelerate and expand the employment prospects of women who survived gender-based violence in South Africa.

Currently, 52.2 % of SA women live below the upper bound poverty level of R1183 per month.

“We at 1000 Women Trust is committed to change the dynamics of women in South Africa by advancing women’s economic rights, fighting gender-based violence, abuse and harassment, supporting women’s plight for equal opportunities for recruitment, empowering and inspiring women through advancing income-generating opportunities,” Thiart said.

“But Mandela Day will be about feeding one another, and by supporting feeding schemes like the 45 soup kitchens so that 15000 people per day will not sleep hungry,” Thiart concluded.

For more information about the soup kitchens, contact Latifah Jacobs on info@

For more information about 1000 Women Trust, visit www.1000women.co.za, or contact Thiart on 073-2079079 or Latifah Jacobs on info@1000women.co.za  or on 0614690479.