Food banks cancellation hit crèches

710 crèches in the province are affected by the crisis
710 crèches in the province are affected by the crisis
Image: Gallo Images/iStockphoto

Palesa* wakes up at dawn to prepare for a 4km walk to drop her child at crèche before heading to work daily.

The 35-year-old mother from Daveyton in Ekurhuleni is one of dozen parents whose children have been affected by the cancellation of Gauteng food banks.

Since the discovery of gross financial mismanagement involving five nonprofit organisations that were contracted to manage the food bank programme, several daycare centres have been left in dire straits.

Palesa's daughter was enrolled at Feed My Lamb daycare which has been severely hit.

"I am a single mother of a four-year-old daughter and I work in a retail shop. I decided to move my child to another crèche after the principal told us about their problems with Gauteng food banks. I had to pay an extra R200 on top of her school fees. I hope the issue of food banks will be sorted soon, so that I can take my child back to her school," she said.

Feed My Lamb, one of the 710 crèches in the province affected, is on the verge of closing its doors as it is struggling to feed 50 children in its care.

Principal Pinky Pululu said the cancellation of food banks has led to some of her staff members losing their jobs.

"I had to let go one of our practitioners and use the money to buy food. We used to get maize meal, soup, fish, soya and vegetables and [now] we spend about R7,000 a month. Sometimes we don't have money to buy enough food for the children, as a result some parents have cancelled their contracts with us," Pululu said.

The Gauteng food banks were established by social development in 2012 to help feed communities in need.

When the food banks were cancelled, 100,000 pupils relying on feeding scheme, 250,000 households that get food parcels and at least 150,000 HIV positive people were affected.

Service providers now claim that provincial social development department owe them more than R233m for services rendered.

Last year the Gauteng premier's office uncovered gross financial mismanagement involving five nonprofit organisations contracted to manage the food bank programme.

Dario Frolio of Siyabonga Africa said the department still owed it R33m for food delivered to 710 crèches across the province. "We still owe R250,000 in back rent for our warehouse as a result of the cancellation," Frolio said.

Power Foods, the supplier of nutritious food in the province, said it was owed over R200m by the department.

Social development spokesperson Busi Kheswa said the matter is currently still under investigation.

*Not her real name.

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