Gauteng has enough food for the needy- MEC Hlophe

The Gauteng Department of Social Development has assured residents that there’s enough food for the needy in the province.

This follows a statement by the Democratic Alliance earlier this month creating an impression that the department is failing to provide food security for the destitute.

Hlophe said the Gauteng City Region Urban Poverty and Elimination Strategy remains the lodestar pillar in driving the provincial elevated priority of eliminating poverty and inequality for poor and vulnerable citizens.

‘To this end, an array of food security programmes which are not only limited to food within our food bank are being implemented,’ said the MEC.

Hlophe said non-profit organisations (NPOs) are tasked with the care and aid of the elderly, HIV/Aids patients, the homeless and indigent through Community Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDCs) as well as drop-in centres.

These NPOs, said Hlophe, provide daily nutritious warm meals and food parcels in line with approved dietary standards to beneficiaries.

‘Steadfast to its commitment to the vulnerable groups, the Department of Social Development and the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment embarked on a food expansion programme which saw the establishment of backyard gardens and the provision of food for the needy in December 2023,’ explained the MEC.

The DA said food banks in the province continue to receive payments from the department without being assigned the responsibility of distributing food, leaving the poor and vulnerable to starve.

On this matter, Hlophe said it was indicated to the Gauteng Portfolio Committee of Social Development that following the recent data which revealed growing poverty and unemployment levels in the province and country, the department took a strategic decision to alter the specifications in the food parcel tender to include the supply of seeds for beneficiaries to be self-sustainable and upskilled.

These NPOs, said Hlophe, provide daily nutritious warm meals and food parcels in line with approved d
ietary standards.

This necessary change is premised on the fact that whilst the department has been providing food parcels to residents for years, their socioeconomic status has not changed, evident in the Statistics SA data.

‘This is largely due to the fact that the department can only provide each household food parcels for a period of three months and is compelled to move on to the next set of families due to the large demand,’ Hlophe said.

According to the MEC, the integration of seeds for planting will enable beneficiaries to have sustainable means to eradicate poverty.

‘This strategy migrates our beneficiaries from the phenomenon of hand-outs to hand ups, thereby, restoring their dignity,’ she said.

The department remains committed to sustainable development and will ensure the revised tender process is concluded speedily in order to refill food banks.

Hlophe said NPOs will continue to ensure that the vulnerable are taken care of.

Source: South African Government News Agency