Tuesday, May 10, 2005

[Africa] Soup-er new service to poor

Durban kitchens plan stirs excitement among jobless and hungry
May 10, 2005
By Bongani Mthembu

Thousands of people who live below the bread line in the greater Durban area stand to benefit from the eThekwini Municipality's ambitious soup kitchens programme aimed at alleviating poverty. The programme will see many poor people - who have been identified as destitute by NGOs, home-based care workers and council staff - getting nutritious meals cooked at municipal facilities every day. The pilot project, which has been described as a major boost for the needy, was launched by Municipality Speaker Nomsa Dube at the KwaMashu Indoor Sports Centre yesterday. Dube said recent research conducted by the council had revealed that many eThekwini residents struggled to make ends meet. "We have conducted our own research, which gave us a clear picture of the level of poverty in our communities. The NGOs have also assisted us in identifying families that are in desperate need of food. "We have found that some families sleep with empty stomachs. This is a huge problem because it makes them vulnerable to diseases," she said.Dube said 14 pilot soup kitchens had been established throughout the eThekwini region with money from the council's Masakhane Grant-In-Aid Poverty Alleviation Programme. There will be kitchens in Verulam, KwaMashu, Phoenix, Inanda, Ntuzuma, Umlazi and other areas.

Home-based care workers have been instrumental in identifying needy communities and compiling a list of people who are destitute. They will also assist by taking food to those who are unable to walk to soup kitchens.The menu will be different every day to ensure a healthy and balanced diet. Meals will include chicken, vegetables, samp and beans. A Daily News team was there when the first meal was cooked yesterday. It all began with the sterilisation of utensils because the people who are responsible for the cooking have been taught that they need to be hygienic at all times.Dube said people would not only be given food but also taught how to start gardens.Seeds and gardening tools have been provided. The council believes that if the gardens become more successful, the produce will be sold to the soup kitchens, thus creating income and employment.An ecstatic Lindiwe Msomi of Ntuzuma outside Durban said the soup kitchens would help prevent sickness. "The issue of empty stomachs has been a problem for home-based care workers for a long time because sick people have been unable to take tablets. This is an important thing," she said.Stanley Moonsamy of Phoenix said: "Many people in my area will definitely benefit from the programme."