ORT SA CAPE’s Food Relief Initiative for Students and Families During COVID-19
ORT SA CAPE has been at the forefront of efforts to provide assistance to South African students and families since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
When face-to-face teaching ceased, ORT SA Cape immediately switched to remote learning and provided its students – all of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds – with the equipment and support needed to learn from home. In the course of ORT SA CAPE’s work in affected communities and its contact with students and their families during lockdown, it became increasingly apparent that families were struggling to put food on the table.
In response to this growing crisis, ORT SA CAPE initiated its ORT SA CAPE Food Relief Program.
In many cases, ORT SA CAPE students live in single-parent or grandparent-headed households. Others live in homes where there is now little or no income, especially during lockdown. ORT SA CAPE began redirecting some of its funding to help these students and their families by providing them with meals and food parcels. The communities of Manenberg, Khayelitsha and Dunoon – where ORT SA CAPE has an extensive network and where many of its interns are based – were selected to be the first to benefit. Most families in these areas have an average of six members per household and often they have extended family to feed as well. Since the end of April, ORT SA CAPE has been providing meals and food packages to help feed families in these communities on a bi-weekly basis.
The food relief initiative began in Manenberg. ORT SA CAPE is currently providing 4,200 meals a week to students and their families throughout Manenberg, and ORT SA CAPE interns assigned to Manenberg schools are assisting in the packing and distribution of food parcels. Distribution became more challenging in June due to the combination of a spike in COVID-19 cases and an upsurge of gang violence. ORT SA CAPE has been able to overcome these difficulties thanks to its long-term collaboration with local community leaders and other NGOs in the area.
In Khayelitsha, 50 children and their families are being provided with two meals a day. Most of these children have had to go without their daily meals since the lockdown began. ORT SA CAPE has also been providing students with all the educational resources that they need to continue their studies at home.
Food relief distribution in Dunoon is being carried out via local creches and Educare principals, who are also continuing to assist staff, students and their families while schools are shut during lockdown.
“Educare is truly grateful to ORT SA CAPE for the support they have shown us during this Pandemic. Thank you, ORT!”
“This is an exceptional day in the lives of those receiving the food parcels, those who are assisting in their distribution, and those who are supporting the food relief initiative. It is because of your generous contribution that it has been such a major success”, said Dawn Adams, project manager of the ORT SA CAPE Food Relief Program in Manenberg. “The recipients have shown tremendous gratitude…the older generation were teary eyed when we left. Many people don’t have anything to eat, which makes this project so unique. We find ourselves in a period of crisis but, I dare to say, ‘this too shall pass’. I thank all those who have so generously contributed to this project because your support was given with such love.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in South Africa worsens, the needs of children and families have become even greater. ORT SA CAPE is confident, however, that with further assistance from ORT supporters around the world it will be able to continue its Food Relief Program, which is providing a crucial lifeline for students, families and communities.