Access to quality, nutritious food is fundamental to human existence and social development.  “You can’t teach a hungry child” is an old adage, yet it is an undeniable fact that nutrition in a child’s early years is linked to their health and educational performance. In general, secure access to food positively impacts a country’s economic development and contributes to poverty alleviation. In South Africa there is a terrible paradox: While 14 million people go hungry daily, one third of all food produced (10 million tons) is wasted and ends up in landfill.

Established in 2009 to address widespread hunger in South Africa, FoodForward SA (formerly FoodBank SA) uses surplus food to drive sustainable social development in vulnerable communities. FoodForward SA’s vision is a South Africa without hunger. Our mission is to reduce hunger by safely and cost-effectively securing quality food, and making it available to those who need it. We connect a world of surplus to a world of need by recovering nutritious, edible surplus food from retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and farmers, and re-distributing this to 530 registered beneficiary organisations that serve over 200,000 vulnerable individuals. In the 2018/2019 financial year we re-distributed 4,220 tons (17 million meals) of food to vulnerable beneficiaries, at a cost of only 90c per meal.

Foodbanking is an international model, practiced by more than 800 organisations globally. Not only is this model cost effective, our surplus food strategies strengthen existing community programmes by significantly reducing our beneficiary organisations’ (BOs) expenditure on food groceries, so that they can re-invest the savings back into strengthening their programmes.

Reducing food waste and loss is the third most effective solution for fighting climate change, and the recovery and redistribution of surplus food significantly reduces the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the food supply chain: for every ton of food recovered, 4 tons of greenhouse gas emissions are saved.  Our operational model promotes 11 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and impacts SDG 12 directly.

FoodForward SA Youth Internship Programme (YIP)

Around 50% of the youth in South Africa are unemployed. We are addressing  that by making a career in supply chain accessible to disadvantaged youth nationally. We launched our inaugural Supply Chain Youth Internship Programme (YIP) in May 2019, with five unemployed matriculants in the first cohort. In 2020 the YIP will be rolled out nationally.


Listen to the Podcast here with Food Forward SA and Aden Thomas: