In celebration of this year’s World Food Day, which is urging action that promotes making healthy diets available to all people in the world, a volunteer group of Woolworths employees from Benmore Gardens and Morningside Wedge stores rolled up their sleeves and went to work with learners in the permaculture food garden at Philip Kushlick School.

Situated inside Baragwanath Hospital in Diepkloof Soweto, Philip Kushlick School has 353 special needs learners from impoverished families.  Their garden was established in 2016 and is giving learners the lifelong skill of being able to grow their own food.  This skill isn’t just an opportunity for them to start their own garden and sell vegetables to other schools or local businesses when they exit the school but also builds their confidence and self-esteem as they realise that they can contribute positively to their community.

 “This will be the first time that our store colleagues will be participating in an EduPlant programme volunteer day,” says, Lorato Makoni Store Manager of Woolies Benmore Gardens store, “It’s a wonderful opportunity to go out into our community on World Food Day, join the kids in getting our hands dirty and learn all about permaculture food gardening while helping to expand the garden and boost their school’s sustainable food production.”

As part of the Woolworths Employee Community Involvement Programme, Woolworths store employees are volunteering at ten schools across the country to recognise the importance of local, sustainably-produced, good food and help them take their food gardens to the next level.  They will work side by side with learners and educators to dig new beds, mulch, compost, plant and water.  In addition to the volunteer time and ‘sweat equity’ from their local Woolies stores’ employees, the retailer also donates vital resources like compost, seedlings and gardening tools to Philip Kushlick School.

In an effort to improve food security in various communities across South Africa, Woolworths has partnered with the EduPlant Programme for the last fifteen years and has been the main funder of the programme with a contribution of R 36.6 million to date.  EduPlant initiated and

managed by Food & Trees for Africa is the country’s leading food gardening and since its inception the programme has facilitated more than 770 permaculture food gardening workshops reaching over 61 000 educators and thousands of schools.  This year 86% of the schools participating in the programme have started food gardens!

Philip Kushlick School has a flourishing food garden which provides fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit for their school’s feeding scheme and the learners are able to take any surplus home with them.

“The World Food Day volunteer day creates an opportunity for colleagues at Woolies stores around the country to take action and make a difference in their communities,” says Zinzi Mgolodela, Director of Corporate Affairs at Woolworths, “Every day, our colleagues work with commitment to make good food that is sustainably produced available through our national network of stores.  This is a way for them to give up some of their time to have a different kind of good food experience which is really inspiring as it is improving the lives of South Africans in need.”