New SA Harvest branch for Garden Route, Klein and Central Karoo set to deliver 100,000 meals a month

SOUTH AFRICA’s fastest-growing food rescue organisation, SA Harvest, has opened its fourth branch – this time in George in the Western Cape. The branch covers the entire Garden Route, Klein Karoo, and Central Karoo, including the municipalities of Hessequa, Mossel Bay, Kannaland, Oudtshoorn, George, Knysna, Bitou, Beaufort West, Laingsburg and Prince Albert.

Since it launched two years ago, the NPO has delivered over 12 million meals to food vulnerable communities by rescuing over 3,6 million kilograms of food. This equates to more than 15 000 meals every day.

The new George branch is located in Glaze Street and has a team of five, headed by Carl van Blerk, newly appointed Operations Manager of SA Harvest Garden Route. It has an initial target of delivering 100 000 meals a month, which will scale up to 150 000 within the first 12 months.

Van Blerk explains the background to the launch of the new branch. “In December 2020 I set up the Garden Route Food Pantry, which sourced and delivered food to local areas in dire need. Soon after that, I connected with SA Harvest to investigate opportunities to join forces to ease the poverty and hunger in the region. This culminated in the official opening of the SA Harvest Garden Route branch. Now, with the groundwork done, combined with the expertise and network of SA Harvest, the Garden Route branch is ready to serve the local community.”

Apart from food rescue, additional sustainability initiatives by the Garden Route branch will include a strong focus on fortified foods to continue the battle against malnutrition, with in-house production of Good4You nutritional biscuits for children; and community gardening programmes to ensure long-term sustainability for organisations that provide food resources, such as feeding centres and soup kitchens.

According to 2019 figures, the Garden Route has a combined municipal population of 616 034, which includes 51 491 households with a combined income of less than R3 200 per month – which means hunger and malnutrition in the area is a priority concern.