Too poor to put food on the ta­ble


MIL­LIONS of South African fam­i­lies are strug­gling to put nu­tri­tious food on the ta­ble. Their only hope is for the gov­ern­ment to in­crease so­cial grants. “Most house­holds can­not cut back any fur­ther. It is time gov­ern­ment in­ter­venes. There are in­creases all around and it’s af­fect­ing the low in­come house­holds the most,” said Julie Smith of the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg Eco­nomic Jus­tice and Dig­nity Group.

“We are ask­ing for gov­ern­ment to con­sider its peo­ple, raise the so­cial grants and to try to sta­bilise the econ­omy.”

The group re­cently con­ducted a study that re­vealed the hu­man poverty in­dex, an in­di­ca­tion of the stan­dard of liv­ing in a coun­try, was on the rise.

It re­ported there are 9.6 mil­lion un­em­ployed South Africans and since the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber, the cost of food in the house­hold food bas­ket in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg was R3 038.50 per month.

Smith said the aim of the study was to show the link be­tween poverty and the stan­dard of liv­ing in the coun­try.

“The study showed that if one had to look at the food on a per­son’s plate, it rep­re­sented a lens of what’s go­ing on in our econ­omy. Our ar­gu­ment is that house­holds are find­ing it harder to sus­tain them­selves and the sit­u­a­tion gets worse each day.

“We vis­ited the homes of black South Africans dur­ing our study and women told us they could not get through the month on the lev­els of in­come that were gen­er­ated in the home.

“When peo­ple sit at the end of the month and bud­get on their spend for the next month, money for food is al­ways al­lo­cated last. If you are a par­ent, you need to en­sure you have trans­port money for your kids.

“You need to look at your elec­tric­ity and wa­ter bills and also debt re­pay­ment be­cause if you don’t pay that off, you won’t be able to bor­row money the next month. And the re­main­der of the money that’s left goes to­wards food.”

Smith said they found women who were liv­ing on a bud­get were of­ten sac­ri­fic­ing them­selves for their chil­dren.

“Women ad­mit­ted to go­ing to bed hun­gry. They would ei­ther cut the por­tions down and give the big­ger por­tions to their chil­dren or give their chil­dren their share of the food. That is not healthy and not a good thing for ladies.”

She added there were many ill­nesses that could be eas­ily con­tracted and with­out the proper food and nu­tri­ents, women could be prone to ill­nesses like heart dis­ease and di­a­betes.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of Rise Against Hunger Africa, Saira Khan, said KwaZulu-Natal was the hard­est hit when it came to food poverty.

“There are 3.2 mil­lion chil­dren who do not have proper ac­cess to food and al­most a mil­lion of them are in KZN. They live ei­ther in child-headed homes or on the streets. Poverty is a big is­sue and we try to do as much as we can to al­le­vi­ate it.”

Khan en­cour­aged South Africans to “stop food wast­ing”.

The MEC for So­cial Devel­op­ment in KZN, Weziwe Thusi, said the de­part­ment paid R2 bil­lion in so­cial grants in KZN.

“There are so many poor peo­ple we as­sist and many of them are on so­cial grants.

“Each ward in the prov­ince has a war room where lead­ers get to­gether with de­part­ment of­fi­cials and dis­cuss the plight of the peo­ple. We get so­cial work­ers to visit homes and as­sist ei­ther with food, seeds for plant­ing or coun­selling.”


A graph out­lin­ing the cost of the house­hold food bas­ket from June to Oc­to­ber 2018


The Pi­eter­mar­itzburg Eco­nomic Jus­tice and Dig­nity Group has re­vealed that more South Africans are strug­gling to put food on the ta­ble

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