(East London) – With just over 20% of Buffalo City residents living below the food poverty line, Hemingways Mall has partnered with Stop Hunger Now Southern Africa to open the organisation’s first shopfront office countrywide.
Since early June, the shopping centre has been home to the Eastern Cape headquarters of the non-profit organisation, which coordinates corporate sponsors and individual volunteers to purchase and pack nutritious meals for the needy.
Last year, more than a thousand East London residents came together to pack 305,250 meals as part of the mall’s inaugural Mandela Day event. The non-perishable meal packs include rice, soya, soup mix and a vitamin supplement and were distributed to beneficiaries via various local feeding programmes.
In July, the mall will kick off the 2017 “Rise 4 Good” campaign with its first corporate event on July 8, followed by the main Mandela Day event a week later, where Miss World contestants will be among the special guests.
Hemingways Mall general manager Reinette van Tonder said, as one of the high-profile businesses in East London, it was critical that the mall play a visible and sustainable role in improving lives in the surrounding community.
Van Tonder appealed to residents, businesses and charities to help them surpass last year’s benchmark.
“The concept is very straightforward,” said Van Tonder. “Companies sponsor the costs of a ‘production line’ and their employees, or any other individuals, can volunteer to spend their 67 minutes for Mandela Day by helping to pack meals during one of four sessions throughout the day.”
She said the partnership between mall owners Rebosis Property Fund and Stop Hunger Now SA would facilitate a more sustained approach to community development and enable more packing events to take place throughout the year.
Stop Hunger Now SA’s chief executive officer Saira Khan described the relationship with Hemingways Mall as “enthusiastic and supportive” and said the opening of its newest branch – in addition to its Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pietermaritzburg offices – was a natural progression.
“We see this branch playing an important role in ending hunger in the province and partnerships like this make a huge impact in doing so.”
According to a 2016 report released by the statistician general on challenges facing the youth, the number of Eastern Cape households where young members experienced hunger has risen to 24.5%.