Have you or someone you know received a food parcel? Or do you and your family need to be able to receive them but you aren’t sure how to go about it? Even though government is using the grant system to give people some more cash, it just isn’t enough. Too many people are still going hungry and it’s really important that everyone has access to basic necessities such as food.

The government, hand-in-hand with various NGOs (non-governmental organisations), are working on ways to get food parcels to people who need them in various communities. These organisations need to be able to identify who exactly needs the food and they also need to work out a way of delivering food without causing too many people to group together. In order to keep the spread of coronavirus to the minimum it remains important for people not to be together in groups.

Who can get food parcels?
The process that you have to go through to get access to food parcels can be quite confusing and frustrating. Organisations are struggling to reach everyone who needs food and people are hungry!

If you and your family need food parcels, this is what you need to know:
Food parcels are available to anyone living in South Africa who needs one (although this is proving challenging)

Who is eligible for SASSA food parcels?
Families in which everyone is unemployed, households headed up by a child, people whose disability grant finished in March 2020, families whose breadwinner died in the past 12 months and those people who can’t work for 6 months for medical reasons.

How do you apply?
Phone 0800 60 10 11 and select option 3.
NB: SASSA is struggling to deal with the number of phone calls that have been coming in so many people have not yet been able to apply for the food parcels.

Email: grantenquiries@sassa.gov.za

Contact your regional SASSA offices:
Eastern Cape: 043 707 6300
Free State: 051410 8339
Gauteng: 011 241 8324
KwaZulu-Natal: 033 8463400 (or WhatsApp 071 607 1514)
Limpopo: 015 291 7500
Mpumalanga: 013 754 9428
Northern Cape: 053 802 4900
North West: 018 387 3360
Western Cape: 021 469 0235

What’s in the parcel?
Parcels include the following items: maize meal, cooking oil, soya mince, milk, pilchards, a nutritional supplement, sugar, sugar beans, bread flour, tea bags, yeast, peanut butter, toothpaste, washing soap and sanitary towels although this might change. Some items may also be substituted with others if the item is in short supply.

This should feed a family of 4 for a month.

Where else can I get a food parcel from?
Many NPOs and community leaders are working with SASSA to identify and deliver food parcels to people in the community.

Other NPOs are distributing food parcels from donations made to them from the public. Some of these are:

• Community Action Networks (CAN): There are many different CAN groups that have sprung up in many different areas. Some of these groups are informal so the best way to get support from them is to speak to a community leader in your area.

• Faith based organisations: There are a number of faith based organisations, such as Gift of the Givers, who are helping communities by providing food parcels. Again, contact your community or faith-based leader and request a food parcel. Most of these organisations don’t work on an individual application basis. They go to communities where there is an overwhelming need.

• Other local NPOs: Find out which NPOs are helping people in your neighbourhood. Approach these organisations directly and ask for help.

Can I get food parcels from my local government?
You can try to contact your local government Department of Social Development.

For example, the Western Cape Department of Social Development will provide a once-off food parcel to support a family of four for one month during the lockdown.

The criteria for this applying for this is:
• Households affected by COVID-19 infections (someone in the family has tested positive and they are in quarantine in their home or a member of the family has tested positive for the virus and they can’t support themselves).

• A person who is on medication or who suffers from a chronic illness who isn’t able to support themselves. They will need to be referred by a local clinic or health practitioner.

• A person and their household who can’t support themselves during the lockdown. They will need to have been referred by a humanitarian relief agency, a NPO or a municipal manager, and assessed by the Department of Social Development. This is mainly for people who do not get SASSA grants.

What is the process?
Any requests sent from a call centre, municipal manager, humanitarian relief agency, or NPO are sent to a social worker who will follow up with a telephone call to check if you are eligible to receive a food parcel. database to check whether the person is an
existing grant or food recipient from SASSA.

How to contact them?

• Call the department toll-free on 0800 220 250
• Share-call on 0860 142 142
• Send a ‘please call me’ on 079 769 1207
• Email covid19donate@westerncape.gov.za or service@westerncape.gov.co.za

If you live in another province, contact the Department of Social Development in your province to find out what help they can offer you.

Although, as you can see, there are a number of different ways you can ask for food parcels, it isn’t an easy process. This is the first time South Africa has tried to feed so many people and this is causing problems and delays. I hope you can find a way to receive a food parcel if you need one.