As the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads, the less fortunate in towns like Plettenberg Bay are among the most vulnerable to infection and on top of that, the most vulnerable to more economic hardships including hunger.
“There is nothing,” a common response from many mothers, fathers, grandparents and children when one approaches the subject of food in the impoverished areas. The online communities and on-the-ground volunteers dedicated to feeding schemes, are already in place to assist, but as the COVID-19 lock-down continues, the challenges being faced have become even more extreme.
Not everyone receives food parcels, and those that do eventually deplete those items. Recipients have been laid off, are not producing an income and there is nobody on the streets to help. Common places to find food handouts are now closed. Soup kitchens are limited with supplies, some are out of food or will be soon, and some will have to close.
The Good News
The Plett Tourism Association (PT) has taken on a somewhat different role over the course of the past few weeks. The team have been working with tourism industry organisations and the South African community to assess the overall impact of the lockdown to Plett and the country. They are also actively researching and implementing ways to position the town in the best possible way in a very uncertain market by keeping the “Plett Feeling” alive.
Marius Venter, CEO of PT, has been working hard in both the political and business realm to encourage a ‘return to business norm’ as soon as practically possible.
Venter says, “It is vital that we work with the COVID-19 Response Team and the Bitou Municipality to assist with and support all emergency procedures and put our other areas of expertise in the forefront. Projects we are currently working on include assisting with feeding schemes for the impoverished and hungry, assisting with the Masks4All programme and investigating special programs to assist the municipality with keeping the town in the forefront of virus combatting activities such as the decontamination of the town.”
Venter has vast experience in disaster relief and feeding schemes and was able source a highly nutritional meal supplement called JAM, a food supplement alternative in the form of a powder to be mixed with water. Approved by the World Food Program and manufactured by Future Foods in South Africa, the supplement is currently feeding 11 million people worldwide. The Bitou Municipality, the COVID-19 Response Team, local businessmen Tony Lubner and Jock Kannemeyer and several private donors have appointed Venter to lead this new feeding scheme. To start, he will be coordinating the distribution of 100,000 meals this week and an additional 200,000 meals over the course of the next three weeks.
The COVID-19 Response Team includes Jock Kannemeyer, Doctor Nicky Whitehead, Bruce Ward Smith, Mike Scholtz, Cecily van Heerden, Marius Venter and appointed municipal representation.
This new feeding scheme made possible by the Bitou Mayor Peter Lobese, the Bitou Municipal Manager Lonwabo Ngoqo and the Bitou Local Economic Development Manager Lesley Jacobs. Venter and the community are very fortunate and appreciative to have their continuous support and guidance through these difficult times.
“This means that no one will go to bed hungry over the next three months,” says Venter. All of this is being undertaken on the backend of the PT office.
“Everything we do is to benefit Plett and our beloved and vital tourism industry. This includes giving people a future and creating hope for those less fortunate than ourselves. Many people have made a contribution in many areas of endeavor and taken on a multitude of challenges and after this crisis is over, we will have a transformed society with a more positive landscape that will serve us well as we re-build and take our town forward into the future,” he also says.
Providing food for 300,000 people over the course of three weeks is a first for Plett, and quite possibly a first for South Africa.
PLETTENBERG BAY COVID RESPONSE TEAM
The team includes members from the PlettAid Foundation (Hospice), appointed doctors, and appointed municipal and business representatives from the Plettenberg Bay community.
Please see Attachment A for reference to induvial names, etc.
PLETTENBERG BAY COVID-19 FEEDING SCHEMES
To date all the feeding schemes in Plettenberg Bay have feed a total of 50,120 individuals. These formalized schemes include:
- Bossiesgif / Pinetree / Qolweni areas: 15,970 meals total; private initiatives coordinated by local residents Brett Leppan, Duncan Brown and Tanya Hyde
- The Crags / Kurland areas: 16,600 meals total; a private initiative coordinated by local resident James Stewart
- Kranshoek area: 9,520 meals total; a private initiative coordinated by local resident Tina Hopff and Ward Councillor.
- Harkerville area: 4,200 meals total; a private initiative coordinated by local resident Shirley Redman.
- Green Valley area: 3,000 meals total; a private initiative coordinated by local resident Jill Mouat.
- New Horizons area: 730 meals total; a private initiative coordinated by local resident Leigh M Dunn.
- Plett Central area: 100 meals total; a private initiative coordinated by local resident Alison Bryant.
This does not include the JAM meals currently being distributed.
JOINT AID MANAGEMENT (JAM)
JAM Joint Aid Management (JAM) was founded by Peter and Ann Pretorius in 1984. We are an African-founded and headquartered, Christian international humanitarian relief and development organisation currently operating in Angola, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda and Sierra Leone.
Since our inception, JAM has progressed as an organisation that reflects strong, expansive development. For more than three decades we have grown into an organisation that affects sustainable change though providing programmes to children who need support and communities that need help. Serving Africa is what defines us. We do not discriminate in terms of race, religion, gender, or political persuasion. For more info, visit www.jamsa.co.za. Photos courtesy of JAM.
- Official hashtag: #plettitsafeeling AND #OnePlett
- FB: https://www.facebook.com/PlettTourism
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Plett_Tourism
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pletttourism/