In the biggest annual community cooking initiative in South Africa, 128 participants representing hotels, restaurants, companies, and individuals took up the challenge and got behind their stoves to cook for a cause – cleaning out their pantries to showcase the massive problem of food waste in South Africa. From 2 litres to 12 000 litres, every drop contributed towards the total cooked in hotels, canteens, home kitchens and community soup kitchens in Gauteng, KZN, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State, Mpumalanga and North West – and to the thousands of people who went to bed without the feeling of hunger on Mandela Day.
This year’s campaign was supported by Electrolux and AEG, whose partnership went way above and beyond a financial contribution. The challenge captured the hearts of the organisation and its staff, who cooked soup from early and delivered it to beneficiaries late into the night on Mandela Day. By the end of the day, 2 000 litres had been contributed to the total by teams from the company’s head office and its retail partner, Hirsch’s Home Stores, and AEG’s brand ambassadors were proudly part of this year’s challenge. Tendai Mtawarira spent his Mandela Day buttering bread at the Out of Africa Children’s Home in Atlantis, Cape Town, where the children took the opportunity to rugby tackle their hero. The company was proud to host Xoliswa Ndoyiya, Nelson Mandela’s private chef for 22 years, at their head office cookoff, where she contributed to their 2 000 litres.
Says Murray Crow, MD of AEG and Electrolux, “The spirit of compassion, collective action and working together to help those less fortunate is one we are proud to have been part of this year. As a brand with a global focus on sustainability, we are also deeply aligned to Chefs with Compassion’s mission to ensure good food doesn’t end up in landfill, contributing to climate change through methane emissions.”
Another huge contributor to the success of the campaign was the involvement of the Poultry Association, whose members, Astral Foods, Country Bird Holdings and Rainbow Chicken each donated R67 000 worth of chicken while Quantum Foods pledged 67 x 20 dozen eggs. This invaluable addition of protein to the soup cooked by Chefs with Compassion’s network of 30 kitchens across Gauteng enabled the huge volume of soup prepared for these deeply impoverished communities served by the kitchens. “We are deeply grateful to the Poultry Association and these caring companies, along with Bidfood Heriotdale, who assisted with storing seven tons of chicken to enable the logistics of getting the chicken to our kitchens,” comments Coo Pillay, national project manager of Chefs with Compassion.
The Joburg Market and Nosh Food Rescue, organisations that enable Chefs with Compassion to rescue vegetables on an ongoing basis in its daily mission to rescue, cook and feed, contributed vegetables to the CWC kitchens. Much-needed ingredients were also received from ZZ2, Griffith Crown, Crown National, Unilever Food Solutions and Willowcreek Olive Oil.
Chefs with Compassion’s long-standing sponsor, SYSPRO, was an outstanding champion of the campaign this year, contributing to the success of the event through their networks, suppliers and staff. Mark Wilson, CEO of SYSPRO EMEA, says, “This challenge has strengthened our relationship with Chefs with Compassion even further. Through the participation of our staff in a teambuilding cookoff with Chef Citrum Khumalo, the cause has been brought to life and we have a deeper connection to what Chefs with Compassion is about.”
Marriott® International once again stepped up, cooking 6 320 litres of soup across their 14 hotels in five provinces. Leading the charge was the Protea Hotel by Marriott Hotel OR Tambo Airport, under the leadership of Chefs with Compassion’s own Chef Coo Pillay.
Leon Meyer, chairperson of the Marriott® Business Council South Africa, says, “We have taken this challenge and its important message of reducing food waste to heart across our operations, implementing operational changes and systems to enable us to rescue and redirect perfectly good food so that it can be used to feed hungry people. Our chefs could not stop cooking on Mandela Day continuing long into Tuesday to continue filling hungry tummies.”
The single largest contributor was the ThembiT Foundation, whose founder Thembi Tshabala has been collecting ingredients from Chefs with Compassion since lockdown in 2020. The dynamic gospel singer began cooking in Mmabatho on Saturday, continuing all the way through to Tuesday, delivering close to 12 000 litres of soup to beneficiaries in five different locations across Gauteng and the North West, including Mafikeng, Randburg, Sharpville, Thembisa and Pretoria.
Another of Chefs with Compassion’s kitchen that cooks every week is the Marang Foundation, run by Nyana Jabane. Her base for Mandela Day was the Orlando Community Hall, where she managed to take her pledge of 2 000 litres of soup to a final total of 3 200.
Similar stories poured in from all over the country. Hours and hours of preparation, peeling, slicing, dicing, and cooking with love and compassion characterised this day of commemorating Madiba.
Financial donations towards Chefs with Compassion’s ongoing work were received from several large corporates, including Compass Insure, a caring company that has played a significant part in CWC’s journey.
Chef James Khoza, chairman of Chefs with Compassion, concludes, “While this day is an important opportunity for people to give back, the reality is that Chefs with Compassion’s 30 kitchens undertake this work five or six days every week. The funds raised through the #67000litres Challenge allows us to continue operating our sharehouse in Johannesburg, rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste, and enabling our network of community kitchens to cook and feed people who, without this meal, would go to bed hungry. We are deeply grateful to SYSPRO, AEG, Electrolux, Compass Insure and all the partners, donors, sponsors and contributors who make this possible every day of the year.”
To make a donation to Chefs with Compassion, go to www.cwc.org.za.