Turning the tables on hunger: Let your vote speak this election day

By Alan Browde, CEO and founder of SA Harvest

by Tia

As we approach World Hunger Day on 28 May and Election Day on 29 May – dates marked not only for global reflection but also for the exercise of democracy in South Africa – the convergence of these two events invites a critical examination of our nation’s battle against hunger. The days leading up to this important occasion will undoubtedly buzz with election fervour, but amidst the campaign promises and political posturing, let us not forget the stark realities faced by millions of South Africans, particularly our children and mothers, who bear the brunt of malnutrition and food insecurity.

Alan Browde, CEO and Founder of SA Harvest

At SA Harvest, our mission to end the injustice of hunger has been boosted not only by the dedication of our donors, beneficiaries and team but also by strategic partnerships that empower action. These collaborations have amplified our impact, helping us to rescue and deliver more than 57 million meals to those most in need across the country since October 2019. Together, we’ve made tangible strides in alleviating hunger.

The theme of World Hunger Day 2024, “Thriving Mothers. Thriving World.”, resonates deeply with the challenges we face. Adequate nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood is not just a matter of health but a fundamental right in our country. Shockingly, our recent realities demonstrate a betrayal of this obligation. South Africa’s children are suffering from malnutrition at alarming rates, with devastating consequences for their development and future. It is a grave injustice that in our resource-rich nation, children’s lives and their futures are compromised by preventable hunger-related illnesses.

The statistics speak volumes: over 15,000 children diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition annually, with approximately 1,000 succumbing directly to its effects. Malnutrition contributes to a third of child deaths, with 27% of children under five stunted due to chronic nutritional deprivation. These are not just numbers but young lives denied their full potential due to systemic failures.

The upcoming elections present an opportunity – a chance for every South African to demand accountability and action on hunger. As we cast our votes, let us remember the voices that often go unheard – the mothers struggling to nourish their families, the children robbed of a healthy start in life. Let us challenge our leaders to prioritise food security, to see hunger not as a statistic but as a national emergency demanding urgent, sustained attention.

It is devastating to witness the silent violence of hunger persisting amidst our nation’s wealth and potential. Our government’s duty to ensure the right to food and nutrition is enshrined in our Constitution, yet millions remain food insecure. This election season, let us hold our leaders accountable for ending this crisis, which they could do over a relatively short time, were they even half committed to the task. The future of our children and our land is not assured by political rhetoric – it demands immediate and appropriate action.

In this journey, our partnerships with benefactors and donors have been instrumental. Together, we’ve rescued 17 million kilograms of surplus food, reducing waste and nourishing communities. However, our work is far from done. With your vote, we can amplify our impact, advocating for policies that prioritise food security and ensure no child goes to sleep hungry.

As we commemorate World Hunger Day on 28 May, let us consider not only the challenges but also the power we hold as citizens. Our votes are more than just ballots – they are instruments of change. Let us make our voices heard, demanding a future where every mother and child can thrive, where hunger is not the devastation of a society but a distant memory.

Together, we can build a South Africa where no child suffers the slow violence of malnutrition – a country where thriving mothers nurture a thriving nation.

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