Every day for almost a decade now, Langa-based Meals on Wheels Community Service has been feeding thousands of unemployed and poor people in the community.
The non-profit organisation (NPO) feeds about 350 people a day and also helps other smaller organisations feed more people.
Its programme was a bit different last Wednesday when the organisation targeting poverty alleviation and aiming for a hunger-free South Africa cooked 2 000 meals in a week to mark World Hunger Day which was on Friday May 28.
The day was put aside to help those struggling.
As Vukani arrived at the Seventh Adventist Church where the food was cooked and prepared, hundreds of people were queuing for metres along the walls of the church for food to relieve their hunger. The queue at times looked disorderly as each one hurried to get their share of food. Although people who were served first were those who had cards, it mattered not to others who were pushing to be in front. Children were also seen along their parents while other littles ones were alone.
While food was handed out, service centre manager Mluleki Mxothwa admitted that it was just a drop in the ocean but there is a massive need for food. He, however, said the organisation will continue to make a difference wherever they can.
added that while many were guaranteed to have a meal on the day, more food was required.
“We feed over 300 people a day in Langa on Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Thursdays but that is not enough. We also deliver some to community organisations that have seniors to help. There are days when we provide food parcels too from donors. But with unemployment and other circumstances, all these are not enough. However, we’re trying and are looking at ways of expanding the aid to neighbouring areas,” he said.
The non-government organisation does this through its donors and the people who volunteer to give back. To manage the long queues, the NPO has a card system but it says it does not really help them because many come without them.
“Finances are a big challenge but we have volunteers who help us and donors. Within the organisations we also have young people who are school drop-outs who help us distribute food. But we also encourage them to go back to school or up-skill themselves,” he said
Princess Mbovu, a volunteer at Meals on Wheels, added that they give out to people everything the organisation receives. She said from bread, salads and sandwiches, they give out to the community.
“I organise everything, but really the community members who volunteer their time regularly are the true blessing. Without them, this would not be possible,” she said. They take different volunteers, from neighbours to church groups, to help feed people in various communities.
The beneficiaries mostly did not want to be named but expressed gratitude to the church and the NPO. One said the church has done a great job in ensuring that it looks after people who are in need. “I never thought that one day I would queue for food but here I am today. I lost employment and have nothing at home. On behalf of everyone here, I am more than grateful to the church, NPO and its volunteers,” he said.
Meals on Wheels have vowed to continue helping the needy and vulnerable for food.