A blog by Wandisile Sebezo
A recipe for success: how a Plett soup kitchen is improving the quality of life for the people it serves
Plett is known for its amazing beaches along a beautiful coastal line. Hey, we have even won awards for it. What is hardly said is that we also boast caring and good people who will go the extra mile when helping those in need.
One such project that reflects this can be found in Kranshoek. It is run by ‘People of Love’, a special project where locals come together to work the land in a sustainable manner and are able to feed themselves and their families. The project is based on four key pillars which include vegetable gardens, community clean-up, community bakeries and ‘canteens’ which are also known as a mobile kitchen.
In a world where negative stories about COVID and vaccines dominate the narrative, it was such a relief to finally be in touch with people who are doing positive work at grassroots level, amidst all this chaos.
As we know, the outbreak of COVID19 meant that a lot of people couldn’t work, businesses closed, and many went to bed without a meal. As a result, we saw several soup kitchens mushrooming up as more and more people needed food. During lockdown, the two projects served more than 1 million meals through their soup kitchens and their food parcel distribution.
With the need for the kitchens to grow, so did the idea to grow their own vegetables and bake their own breads.
According to Tina Hopff, co-founder of ‘People of Love’, an NPC which started this initiative in Kranshoek, “the idea was to create a sustainable community bakery, not just for soup kitchens, but also for the community,” and from this project her team was able to feed more than 800 people each day in Kranshoek.
The bakery continues to serve the community with high-quality bread at very affordable prices even after the more severe lockdown restrictions have been lifted. They even started to supply other kitchens with bread and fresh produce.
As if that is not enough, these volunteers have also started what Tina calls a “Soup Kitchen Garden” which they hope will provide the soup kitchens with fresh produce. The future includes selling fresh vegetables to the public through an established marketplace.
In a country with high unemployment figures and where many people struggle to feed their families daily and this initiative goes a long way in creating self-sustainable jobs. It also instills the attitude of independence while at the same time equipping individuals with the basic entrepreneurial skills they may need to get started with other business initiatives.
Their work has been so amazing that members of the community have been asking for jobs and asking how they can also participate in this project.
“That’s what this is about; it’s about positive energy, people who are willing to work hard and take an opportunity and do something positive,” said Daron Chatz from ‘People of Love’.
According to Daron, the end goal at this juncture is to foster a culture of entrepreneurship, where members of the community can, from these types of initiatives, create sustainable job opportunities for themselves.
Of course, this project is not unique to Plett, it is but one of many across the country and even the world where people are taking charge of their own livelihoods. In recent months we have seen a rise of food gardens in informal settlements and they’re starting to become a beacon of hope to those less fortunate.
I’ve written before that we need more of these, especially in areas such as Kwano where vacant spaces are used by locals as dumping grounds. Town planning in the future should include turning vacant lots into food gardens. One can only hope that projects such as the one in Kranshoek will spread into other areas.
South Africa’s socio-economic challenges are three-fold, often described as ‘triple challenges’ and they are inequality, poverty and unemployment. They are inter-dependent as one leads to the other, but projects such as this are, to an extent, helping to improve the quality of life of its intended beneficiaries, thus alleviating poverty.
The world is still grappling with the invisible enemy that is COVID-19, which by the look of things will continue to be with us at least for another year or so. Who knows? We say kudos to those who are shining light on the lives of those whom the world seems to have forgotten.
Photographs courtesy of Vanessa Brewer