You can’t properly feed a child on current social grant: NGO

28 February 2018 - 07:00
By Penwell Dlamini
Generic image of a child eating.
Image: bttoro/ Generic image of a child eating.

The cost of securing a basic‚ nutritional diet for a child is way beyond the child support grant the state provides for the poor.

This is according to the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action’s (Pacsa’s) monthly food price barometer.

In his budget speech earlier this month‚ now-former finance minister Malusi Gigaba announced that the child support grant would increase from the baseline of R380 to R400 on April 1‚ and to R410 on October 1.

Gigaba also announced that the poor would be protected from his 1 percentage point VAT increase as “the current zero-rating of basic food items such as maize meal‚ brown bread‚ dried beans and rice will limit the impact on the poorest households”.

But the Pacsa monthly food barometer for February 2018 shows an interesting picture of the actual cost of providing food for children in poor communities.

In its data‚ Pacsa compares the cost of an adequate but basic nutritious diet against the value of the child support grant.

Pacsa argues that the grant is set below the food poverty line.

“The value of the [grant] is even further below the actual cost which allows mothers to feed their children a basic but proper monthly nutritious diet‚” the organisation said.

According to Pacsa‚ in February 2018 the cost of securing a basic but nutritionally complete diet for a child between the ages of 3 and 9 was R540.58 a month. For a child aged 10 to 13‚ it is R583.35 a month‚ while for a girl child aged 14 to 18 it is R615.58 a month. And for a boy child aged 14 to 18 it is R682.01 a month.

“This data shows that the [grant] is 28% below the food poverty line‚ and 35% below the actual cost of a basic but nutritionally complete diet for a girl or boy child aged 10 to 13 years. This percentage deficit increases for older children‚” the organisation said.

Pacsa has developed its own Monthly Food Price Barometer which uses certain food items to track food inflation.

In February 2018‚ the Pacsa month-to-month food basket increased by R4.12 or 0.1% to R3‚115.07‚ from R3‚110.95 in January.

Over the last three months‚ the same food basket has increased by R93.68 or 3.1%. In December 2017‚ the food basket was pegged at R3‚021.39.

The food basket used in the Pacsa food price barometer includes the following items: - maize meal 25kg +10kg; - rice 10kg - cake flour 10kg; - samp 5kg; - white sugar 10kg; - sugar beans 5kg; - cooking oil 5l; - maas 5l; - eggs x60 ; - frozen chicken portions 10kg; - chicken feet 5kg; - gizzards 2kg; - beef 2kg; - wors 2kg; - offal 2kg; - potatoes 10kg; - onions 10kg; - tomatoes 10kg; - carrots 5kg; - spinach 8x bunches; - cabbage x1; - salt 1kg; - stock cubes 24 x2; - soup 400g x2; - curry powder 200g; - tea 250g; - cremora 800g; - tinned pilchards 400g x6; - canned beans 410g x6; - bananas 2kg; - apples 1.5kg; - margarine 1kg; - peanut butter 400g; - polony 2.5kg; - apricot jam 900g; - white bread 30 loaves; and - brown bread 30 loaves.