The number of people who rely on food parcels provided by the Gauteng government to survive during the lockdown has doubled.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura revealed this during the launch of the Ekurhuleni Food Bank at the Springs fresh produce market on the East Rand on Tuesday.
Makhura said that, over the last two weeks, they had received calls from people who used to work before the lockdown who were now asking to be included on the list of the needy.
“Food security is critical in Gauteng. Ordinarily, in Gauteng, 20% of the population are food insecure. When there is no Covid-19, we also have residents who are food insecure.
“These are people who have a guarantee of food that can last them for five days and are worried about where they will source food for the remaining two days of the week.
“We want to assure all those contributing that this is not arbitrary, and beneficiaries are not identified arbitrarily,” said Makhura.
He said recipients are identified through existing government criteria.
“Those families are known and are in the database, and we are interacting with them on a daily basis. We are also providing their children with school nutrition and, those who need support from municipalities, with water and electricity bill waivers,” he said.
“This is based on need. Currently, there are new families where people had income before the lockdown. The number of people we must assist has doubled,” Makhura said.
City of Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina said they are also worried about the implications the Covid-19 virus will have on the economy.
“We are also confronted with a situation where the lives of our ordinary citizens are being severely affected by the pandemic.
“Millions of our people are out of work and there are families that are struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic and have no ability to generate a meaningful livelihood.
He said they have called on help from local businesses and individuals within and outside the city to donate to the food bank.
“We are going to use officials dealing with social development. We want to ensure the system is tight and linked to our database. We will be using the provincial hotline to record more people because this crisis has created a situation where more families are now in need,” Masina said.
Masina then warned politicians and municipal officials who might want to steal food parcels meant for the poor during the current lockdown.
He said he trusted his officials and politicians in Ekurhuleni to comply with the law and to ensure that food parcels are distributed to needy families and not diverted elsewhere.
They are on a drive to distribute food parcels to about 400 desperate families a day.The groceries in the food parcels are expected to last at least a month. Masina said all essential food items were secured by private companies and individuals.”There is no government money that is being used. We have closed our government purse and are working with private sector to do this initiative. The only thing we spend is petrol money to go around.”