• Woolworths promotes sustainable food gardens at schools with employee volunteer days
  • Skills development for food security awareness starts at school level

Leading South African retailer, Woolworths, is setting out to make a meaningful difference for World Food Day, marked every year on 16 October. With a number of initiatives aimed at learners, Woolworths is focusing on creating awareness about food security and integrating sustainable living skills into the school’s curriculum.

Last year the company contributed R2.4-million to the support of sustainable food security practices through EduPlant – a permaculture food gardening and greening programme and competition initiated and run by Food & Trees for Africa. The programme teaches schools to develop permaculture food gardens that serve as a living classroom and entrench sustainable living skills in the community.

For the third year running, Woolworths store employees will roll up their sleeves and get to work in EduPlant school food gardens in their communities. The volunteer days will take place at 18 EduPlant schools across the country.

Also, for the first time this year, Woolworths is launching another dimension of learning to the programme with the School Market Day Initiative, which sees schools selling the produce from their gardens. It will start out as a partnership with two schools – Hout Bay High School in Cape Town and Pula Madibogo Junior School in Polokwane, as part of an initial pilot.

Woolworths has hosted site tours to expose the learners from both schools to the back-end supply chain operations of the retail environment – showing youngsters how food is produced, distributed and eventually sold. They will be given insights into career opportunities in the retail industry and offered a partnership with local stores that could spur future opportunities.

The learners will also be able to sell the produce from their EduPlant gardens to the public at the Hout Bay Mall in Cape Town and Mall of the North in Polokwane on World Food Day on 16 October to raise funds for their schools.

‘Food security a priority’

Zinzi Mgolodela, Head of Transformation at Woolworths, said the company remains committed to improving food security in South Africa, by increasing communities’ access to sustainable agricultural practices and resources.

“Food security is extremely important and that is why we have supported EduPlant for the last 12 years. Children need to learn about sustainable living and adopt these practices which they can use for the rest of their lives.

“We have made a long-term commitment to support the creation of sustainable food systems or gardens. Through our educational programmes we hope these valuable skills will be incorporated into the teaching syllabus,” said Mgolodela.

World Food Day was founded by the United Nations as an annual event to highlight issues of food security and global hunger. This year’s theme aims to reduce chronic food insecurity and poverty through social protection by ensuring direct access to food, or the means to buy food.

Sowing seeds of change

The first teams of Woolworths’ volunteers broke ground in September at the food gardens of Winnie Ngwekazi School (Gauteng), Kotankwe Primary School (Polokwane), Roseway Waldorf (Kwa-Zulu Natal), Hout Bay High School (Western Cape), Pula Madibogo Junior School (Polokwane), Zwelihle School (Western Cape), Highlands (Western Cape), and Siphakamile Primary School (Kwa-Zulu Natal).

During October the rollout continues at Paballo Day Care (Free State), Inxiweni (Gauteng) Kutlwanong School for the Deaf (North West), Impumalelo (Free State), Londhindha (Mpumalanga), Tekwane Primary (Mpumalanga) Mailakgang (North West), Phomolong (Gauteng), Seyisi Primary School (Eastern Cape) and Izwelisizwe (Kwa-Zulu Natal).

Issued on behalf of                            Woolworths

Issued by                                           Lauren Human

                                                          Meropa Communications

                                                          011 506 7313/078 253 9160



For Woolworths                                    Kirsten Hewett

                                                             Woolworths Corporate Communications

The EduPlant Programme

EduPlant is a permaculture food gardening and greening programme and competition initiated and run by Food & Trees for Africa, which teaches schools how to grow their own food in an ecologically sustainable manner. EduPlant has helped hundreds of schools to enhance food security and contribute to poverty alleviation and skills in their communities. Through permaculture techniques, communities are recognising the value of recycling waste, creating their own organic compost and employing biological agents in place of pesticides and fertilisers. The programme has provided improved nutrition for thousands of learners across the country, enabling them to perform better at their studies and generate an income source through the sale of additional produce. The Woolworths Trust has been supporting the EduPlant programme for more than a decade, as part of Woolworths long-term commitment to improving food security in South Africa.

Market Day initiative

As part of a broader aim of supporting the learners at EduPlant schools we are providing EduPlant schools with the opportunity to gain additional knowledge about producing, distributing and selling produce. This will provide insight into possible career opportunities for the learners.

This programme integrates Woolworths Trust initiiatives with  elements of the Woolworths Making the Difference in Education programme: : schools hosting a volunteer day, visiting a Woolworths supplier, where possible visiting a Woolworths distribution centre, and visiting a Woolworths store. The programme will culminate in the school selling their produce on World Food Day outside Woolworths Stores in Hout Bay (Cape Town) and Mall of the North (Polokwane).  Each school will be provided with appropriate material to set up their stand. The schools will use the funds raised to support their food gardens.