Village Talk



Giving people hope for the future is the driving force behind the Hunger Busters feeding programme in Howick.

The non-profit initiative was co-founded by Rob Askew, a retired police veteran, in February 2019.

It is not linked to any church denominati­on and comprises of volunteers who have different faiths and belief systems.

A private business provides a financial auditing service on a probono basis.

Hunger Busters was initially a sub-project of Love Howick, but Askew realised in mid-2020 that the Covid-19 pandemic was having a massive impact on the poorest adults in the community.

“There was a need for the homeless and poorest of the poor adults in the central business district to receive more focused attention,” he explained.

“Hunger Busters became a separate entity; a community and humanitari­an-based, non-profit initiative. Compassion, with wisdom and discernmen­t, is exercised at all times.”

Since the beginning of the year, 2 016 food parcels have been distribute­d to the 215 young men and women, whose names and details are recorded on the Hunger Busters’ database.

In total 4 907 food parcels have been distribute­d since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Askew and a group of volunteers meet twice a week, on a Tuesday and Friday, to pack and distribute food.

“Food parcel distributi­ons usually take place at 15 to 20 locations in and around the central business district. Times and locations vary. Ad-hoc distributi­ons also occur between the two days. No money is given,” Askew said.

“A Tuesday food parcel can comprise a loaf of brown bread, 150g of cheddar cheese, a bottled water, a tin of pilchards (with labelling removed and marked Hunger Busters), and two fruits (usually a banana and a naartjie).

“On another day, it can comprise a litre of homemade soup/hot meal, a loaf of bread, a banana, a naartjie and a bottled water.

“A Friday parcel usually comprises peanut butter and apricot jam sandwiches, two boiled eggs, a tin of baked beans (labelling removed and tin marked), a banana and a naartjie.”

Askew is extremely grateful to the volunteers who make soup and hot meals, peanut butter and apricot jam sandwiches and boil eggs for the project; as well as those who collect grocery items from shops, and assist with the packing and distributi­on of food parcels.

He added: “Financial donors make it possible for items to be purchased. A number of businesses in the central business district donate items and/or sell items at a discounted rate to Hunger Busters. Two businesses provide space for the packing of the parcels.”

The feeding scheme is about more than just providing meals, however. For Askew it is about providing poor adults with support to change their lives for the better.

“It's been wonderful getting to know the names of car guards, waste-pickers, recyclers, taxi washers, pot hole fillers and more, and building friendship­s and relationsh­ips with them; helping to meet their needs, encouragin­g and praying with them, and giving them hope for the future,” he said.

Askew also believes that the programme can help with social crime prevention by reducing the desire to commit crime.

“Recipients know that if they commit crime, sell any of the food or are alleged to have conned elderly folk out of money, they don’t receive a food parcel,” he explained.

“There is an informer network and ‘track and trace’ system in place.

“Yes, many of the recipients are drug users, but not all. There have been some incredible and encouragin­g stories of lives being transforme­d. Sadly, some of those we have been helping have died.”

Village Talk is planning to share some of the success stories, which have come out of the project in next week’s edition.

If you would like to assist Hunger Busters, please contact Rob Askew at 082 779 8650 or 081 762 7788 or via email at robertsask­ew@

If you would like to donate to the project, please use the banking details below:

Account name: Hunger Busters ABSA Howick

Save Flexi

Account number - 9360191598 Ref: Name of donor

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