Food insecurity is a reality for many Gauteng households, with approximately 50% of households living under the poverty line and not being able to afford basic healthy eating. Low-income households typically spend about a third of total expenditure on food.
The spread of the global pandemic to Gauteng is causing further pressure on vulnerable households facing temporary or permanent employment interruptions. In addition, the primary caretakers of these households now have more mouths to feed, including children that previously benefited from the National School Feeding Programme also relying on their primary care givers for food.
The COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa has forced government to develop interventions to ensure vulnerable households have access to safe and nutritious food during the current state of emergency. One being implemented on a provincial government level involves the distribution of food aid parcels to vulnerable households. The food parcels will see may households through one of the greatest pandemics of our time.
But are these food parcels nutritionally adequate?
Gauteng is home to just over a quarter of the South Africa population and is viewed as the economic hub of the country. In Gauteng the food parcel relief scheme is available to citizens who earn a combined household income of less than R3,600, as well as to recipients of South African social security agency pensioner, disability, child welfare and military veteran grants.
Read more: Social protection responses to the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa
Each food aid parcel being distributed in Gauteng includes: starch-rich foods (10kg maize meal and 5kg rice), protein-source foods (1kg soya, two tins of baked beans, two tins of fish and 880g peanut butter), two litres of cooking oil, one packet of tea bags, 2.5kg sugar, 1kg salt and three non-food items (one bottle of dish-washing liquid, one bottle of all-purpose cleaner and two bars of laundry washing soap). In the Gauteng province approximately 7,000 food parcels are requested daily. By early April 8,000 families had received food parcels.
The president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has also announced that a further 250,000 parcels will be distributed across the country. The implementation of technology-based solutions to provide food assistance at scale through vouchers and cash transfers will also be incorporated to ensure that help reaches those who need it faster and more efficiently.
Our objective was to determine whether the nutritional value of this food parcel met the requirements of what is generally accepted as a nutritionally balanced diet. In this case a balanced diet was defined based on the nationally accepted nutritional guidelines: the South African food based dietary guidelines combined with the eating patterns suggested in the guidelines for healthy eating.
Benchmark values of selected nutrients were obtained from the World Health Organisation. In this case a reference family was assumed to consist of one adult female,
The Gauteng food aid parcel has a retail value to the recipient household of approximately R507 (based on current online retail prices) with a total weight of approximately 30kg. Read More Gauteng