News Release: GRDM delegation led by Executive Mayor visits Garden Route Food Pantry 

28 January 2021
News release
For immediate release

GRDM delegation led by Executive Mayor visits Garden Route Food Pantry 

Executive Mayor of Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM), Alderman Memory Booysen, and officials visited the Garden Route Food Pantry in George to view the progress made so far before the facility’s launch in February this year.

The Food Pantry is owned by the Non-Governmental Organisation, Eden Community Hope Outreach (ECHO), and is operated in collaboration with GRDM and local municipalities in the district with the purpose of alleviating hunger.

During the visit, Carl van Blerk, Managing Director of ECHO, spoke about the progress made so far and what has been achieved thus far. He said:  “We are working together with Government (Municipalities) and private sector companies and do this hand in hand.

Executive Mayor of GRDM, Ald. Memory Booysen (middle) and Managing Director of the Garden Route Food Pantry, Carl van Blerk (left) with Clive Africa, GRDM Executive Manager for Community Services (right) during discussions at the Garden Route Food Pantry.
Executive Mayor of GRDM, Ald. Memory Booysen (right), Managing Director of the Garden Route Food Pantry, Carl van Blerk (left) and Siphiwe Dladla, GRDM Chief of Staff in the Office of the Mayor (middle), during the visit.

“The idea is to get all local municipalities in the Garden Route involved in the Food Pantry to assist with the running cost of the facility”. He added that private sector businesses already donate essential food items to struggling communities through the NGO, while many other businesses also pledged their support to the initiative – discussions are ongoing with all those interested in bringing a positive change to people who need aid,” he added.

Executive Mayor, Alderman Memory Booysen, said: “We have to lead by the example and this initiative is what we need for this district. It can only be successful if it is run in partnership will all businesses and community members,” he added.

Mayor Booysen highlighted: “This is the first joint initiative of its kind in the Western Cape, therefore we will prove to everyone that this type of strategic partnership is not only important, but much needed to restore the well-being of our friends, families and neighbours. Through this initiative, we hope that other municipalities throughout South Africa will duplicate our approach to assist struggling communities,” Booysen concluded.

The Garden Route District Municipal Council in May 2020 resolved that an investigation needed to be conducted into the joint initiative of a district foodbank. Following meetings with relevant stakeholders in the district, it was resolved that one strategy for the District should be formulated, with clear objectives and targets to address poverty and hunger within the Garden Route district.  Due to the urgency of the current situation, exacerbated by the knock-on effects of the current Covid-19 pandemic,  the Eden Lions Club secured funding for the establishment of a District Food Pantry. In September last year, the GRDM Council indicated their interest in joining the initiative and made a decision to share the operational costs with all local municipalities in the Garden Route. However, according to Clive Africa, GRDM Executive Manager for Community Services who was also present during the visit, the National Covid-19 fund will stop by the end of January, which will have a negative impact on food security within the Garden Route district.

Planning to get the facility ready for the launch are now underway, while engagements with local municipalities not yet forming part of the initiative, continue. The private sector businesses in the Garden Route involved is one of the cornerstones of this initiative and will ensure the successful roll-out of it in the fight against hunger within the district.

Feature Photo:  The GRDM delegation with the Garden Route Food Pantry team in front of the Kevin van Niekerk mural, depicting the entire Garden Route inside the Food Pantry.

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