Residents ask for soup kitchen to help fight hunger

A day in the the GG Camp. Photo: Mpumi Kiva

THE poor community of the GG Camp in Oudtshoorn are demanding that the Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality and local big businesses assist in establishing soup kitchens that can help fight hunger in this informal settlement.

According to a recent report of Statistics South Africa, Measuring Food Security in SA, a staggering 6,5 million people in SA – or 11% of the population of 60 million – suffer from hunger. This goes hand in hand with the unemployment rate of 34,5% in the first quarter of 2022.

In this community many families go to bed starving due to unemployment. Many households are depending on their elders’ government social grant to buy food and other basic necessities, but the money is not enough.

During the hard Covid-19 lockdown two soup kitchens served nutritional meals twice a day to many families. But after the easing of lockdown regulations the feeding schemes left.

Lissa Koopman (36) who lives in a tiny shack with her seven year old daughter, believes that soup kitchens could help a great deal to alleviate hunger in the area.

“Life here is a daily struggle. We also struggle with basic necessities such as electricity, proper houses and sanitation.

“Every day we have to go to the nearby bushes dumpsite to collect wood to cook.

“We hope our municipality could help with soup kitchens because many families go to bed hungry.
I still have energy to work but l can’t find a job. The government’s Covid 19 grant is not enough,” she explains.

Elsie Kleppies (40) said she came back to her family after losing her job as a cleaner in George in 2020. This mother of two is surviving on her child’s government grant and the R350 Covid-19 government grant.

“Many of us are unemployed and have no hope of finding employment soon. Food prices have gone up and this makes our life so difficult.

“This money is not enough to feed the family and buy food, because half of this money goes straight to my child’s school needs.

“Soup kitchens that can serve two meals a day are needed here. People wake up in the morning and go to look for jobs and return home hungry. It is sometimes difficult for families to even buy bread for a day.”

“We plead with our municipality to come to our rescue and assist in setting up soup kitchens in our area” she says.

A community leader in the area Roy Ngxanga said the area is much troubled by poverty due to unemployment especially amongst the youth.

“This area is faced with lots of social problems and with unemployment and hunger topping the list.

“We have school children and young people who take chronic medication and need food before the pills. As community members we can only change this by working together.”

Local church leader Zatoe Hanse has called on churches to raise funds and assist the struggling families.

The Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality spokesperson Aurelia Mle said the town council are currently assisting soup kitchens through partnering with Garden Route Food Pantry which provides supplies to different soup kitchens in the Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality. (By Mpumi Kiva)