Cape Town - This week marks two years since the establishment of Cape Town Together, an initiative that gave rise to Community Action Networks (Cans) as a response to food insecurity that came with the Coronavirus pandemic.
In March 2020, following the announcement of the hard lockdown, a group of community organisers, social activists and public health workers came together to kick-start a community-led response to Covid-19 to help alleviate hunger in vulnerable communities.
This resulted in hundreds of networks that set up food kitchens in their communities throughout the city.
Two years later, these networks have multiplied and are offering more services. They have also become the only source of food for most unemployed and vulnerable people in certain communities.
Co-ordinator of the Harare network in Khayelitsha, Khanya Qongo, said that when the lockdown regulations to prevent the spread of Covid-19 were announced, it had an immediate and devastating effect on the people of Khayelitsha.
In a meeting with the Community Action Networks leaders last year, Premier Alan Winde alluded to food security as the second issue the province was worried about.
Qongo said many people in this low-income area were already experiencing food insecurity when the lockdown started.
“We have a community kitchen that has been providing meals since 2020. However, keeping the kitchen active hasn’t been the easiest as resources constantly run out.
“However, we later gained the support of the Kolisi Foundation that is now supplying us with monthly groceries for our kitchens and for the three volunteers within our kitchen, to make sure the work continues,” she said.
Qongo said that not only did they provide food, but also classes where they teach primary school children to read, and other activities.
Tafelsig Community Action Network facilitator Joanie Fredericks said in the last two years, many networks had registered as non-profit organisations and were working independently.
“Unfortunately, the government has never come to the table. So while we continue to feed the community, it is important that we also focus on sustainability issues like gardening, that we provide skills development and support the community in terms of job creation,” she said.