A record number of 6 000-plus volunteers will package 822 000 meals – enough to feed over 6 000 pre-school learners for a year – in a single day during a Stop Hunger Now Southern Africa event running concurrently in Johannesburg and Cape Town on 18 July, Nelson Mandela International Day.
The event, dubbed Meals in Memory, will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg and the Canal Walk Shopping Centre in Cape Town. “Teams of 20 volunteers, in shifts of 67 minutes, will each package enough nutritious food to feed 20 children three meals a week for an entire year,” Stop Hunger Now said in a statement on Friday.
The organisation added that there were still 30 spots available for groups of 20 to 25 volunteers at the Johannesburg event. Individuals or organisations wishing to take part should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with “16h00 shift enquiry” in the subject line. During the Johannesburg event, guests of honour – including Nelson Mandela’s great-grandson Luvuyo Mandela and Springbok rugby player Pierre Spies – will celebrate the life of Madiba with a special candle-lighting ceremony.
“Stop Hunger Now Southern Africa creates awareness of the reality that one in five children in South Africa are stunted,” the organisation said. “Feeding children during childhood can contribute 3% to our economic growth. Children malnourished during early childhood suffer irreversible brain development impairment.”
The organisation’s volunteer-based hunger eradication programme also provides empowerment opportunities for unregistered crèches – otherwise known as early childhood development centres – to self-fund teacher training “and to develop a dignifying environment for children that attend these pre-schools”.