Pepsico unveils R12-million #givemealsgivehope initiative to alleviate COVID-19 hunger in South Africa

By: Food Focus on 23 April 2020

Pepsico unveils R12-million #givemealsgivehope initiative to alleviate COVID-19 hunger in South Africa

PepsiCo South Africa today unveiled a R12-million initiative to provide meals to vulnerable South Africans amidst the COVID-19 crisis. This initiative, led locally by PepsiCo companies Pioneer Foods and Simba, will serve more than 11 million meals to communities most impacted by the socio-economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has worsened the existing food insecurity situation in South Africa and in response to this unfolding global social and economic crisis, PepsiCo is committing to supporting and partnering with hard-to-reach communities to alleviate the impact of COVID-19. The #GiveMealsGiveHope initiative will be rolled out in partnership with FoodForward SA and The South African Red Cross Society. These are outreach experts, able to access existing food networks to serve meals to those in need.

Tertius Carstens, CEO of Pioneer Foods said, “Giving meals is giving hope, and we believe we can play an important role in providing essential food items to those affected by the pandemic”, He added that this initiative is in keeping with the existing Pioneer Foods school breakfast nutrition programme.

“As a leading food and beverage company in South Africa, we believe it is our responsibility to focus our social investment in those areas where it has the biggest impact in alleviating the hunger of our country’s people, on a sustainable basis.”

John Stevenson, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Simba Pty Ltd, a PepsiCo company, explained that “Food is at the heart of what PepsiCo does, and we believe the best way we can support communities during this difficult time is by working with partners, to bring food to our communities and those who need it most.”

South African Red Cross Acting CEO, Mabel Koketso explains, “Many citizens cannot afford to purchase basic groceries during this period, and almost ten million children who normally rely on school feeding programmes, now find themselves without a daily meal”. South African Red Cross will use the grant from PepsiCo to cook and provide hot meals or food parcels on a daily basis to beneficiaries housed in temporary shelters as well as those based in vulnerable communities.

FoodForward SA is looking beyond the lockdown when it believes food insecurity will be the biggest threat facing South Africa for several months to come. Andy Du Plessis, Managing Director of FoodForward SA confirms that the organisation has been inundated with requests for food support, “The grant from PepsiCo will enable us to distribute over eight million meals to our most vulnerable beneficiaries which will include, but are not limited to community feeding programs, school/after-school care and Early Child Development Centres”.

Recognising that PepsiCo employees around the world also want to help their communities in this time of crisis, The PepsiCo Foundation is offering a two-to-one match for all employee charitable contributions to a group of nonprofit organisations providing COVID-19 relief globally.

The #GiveMealsGiveHope relief initiative is part of a US$45 million global initiative launched by PepsiCo and its philanthropic arm, The PepsiCo Foundation, focused on helping people and communities most affected by this devastating virus. The company is funding vital support including protective gear for healthcare workers, testing and screening services, and is already in the process of distributing more than 50 million nutritious meals to at-risk populations by supporting food banks and other partners around the world.