In commemoration of World Food Day 2019 on the 16th of October, Woolies employees will be making a difference in schools across the country by volunteering their time and efforts in their food gardens and help them boost the production of nutritious vegetables and fruits that help supplement their feeding schemes.  Over the past 16 years, Woolworths has made contributions to the value of R5.8 billion towards a #zerohunger future in South Africa through its surplus food donations, partnership of the EduPlant food gardening programme and other food security programmes that it has supported.

This year, World Food Day, which envisages a #zerohunger world by 2030, is urging action that promotes making healthy diets available to all people in the world.  The campaign makes the point that it is not just the estimated 820 million people who are undernourished that are of concern; it’s also even more people who are overweight or obese.  South Africa is a microcosm of this global predicament with both high rates of undernourishment and obesity.

With nutritious food at the heart of the Woolworths business, the retailer has made its commitment to a #zerohunger future, and engages in a variety of partnerships to alleviate hunger and improve access to healthy, sustainable diets.  Over the last twelve months, Woolworths has sustained long-term projects and entered into new partnerships which have resulted in a monetary contribution of R9 million to improved food security. 

Woolworths takes a multi-level approach that ranges from addressing the environmental impact of food production through its ongoing Farming for the Future initiative; to supporting improved nutrition in schools through a pilot project in partnership with UNICEF and the Gauteng Department of Education, as well as reducing food waste through the donation of surplus food to over a thousand charitable organisations across the country and supporting FoodForwardSA in realising its vision.  Helping people grow their own nutritious food and contributing to sustainable livelihoods is addressed through its support of the Living Soils Community Learning Farm with partners; the Sustainability Institute and Spier Wine Farm.

For 15 years, the Woolworths Trust has been a committed partner of the EduPlant programme, which was initiated and is managed by Food & Trees for Africa.  Since this partnership, the EduPlant 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! The EduPlant programme is changing lives, meet Mashao Seabela a 22 year old environmental scientist and influencer now living in Cape Town (@mashao_seabela).  Mashao participated in the EduPlant programme in his rural Limpopo primary school 12 years ago but attributes the EduPlant programme as moulding him into the man he is today and his career choice specifically. Mashao Seabela and his EduPlant journey

Director of Corporate Affairs, Zinzi Mgolodela believes that the EduPlant programme, like Woolworths’ other food security initiatives, is an excellent example of partnerships that create shared value for all involved. “The #zerohunger future quest demands a higher level of commitment from the partners in order for food security initiatives to be truly sustainable.  Shared value has to be a real experience, not some cliché, especially in a country where sustainable impacts need to be derived from everyone contributing meaningfully to making a shift, including corporate citizens like us at Woolies,” confirms Mgolodela.

For the Woolies employee taking action for healthy diets on World Food Day, it is an opportunity for them to connect to EduPlant schools in their communities; to not only give their time but also transfer skills and boost good food production.  In the same week, Woolworths will launch the first of its special ‘food security tree’ windows as part of its Christmas windows campaign.  The innovative paper Christmas trees with actual tree seeds.  The pods and leaves were handmade by local crafters through a job creation initiative and developed with a seed specialist to give them the best possible chance to grow into healthy trees. At the end of the festive season, 20 000 tree seeds will be donated to EduPlant schools to germinate and grow into healthy trees to aid sustainable long term food production in their gardens.