A 2013 South African National Farmer of the Year, grower and Tru-Cape company director, Rossouw Cillié learned the important lesson about never wasting food from his mother, Irene Cillié, who passed away recently.
“Our mother taught us that if our cup is full, and we have extra, then we must share what we can but, at the same time, never to waste especially when it came to food,” says Mr Cillié.
“These lessons are very much present in our lives at the moment, as our whole world finds itself in a crisis as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Aside from apples and pears packed at Ceres Fruit Growers and marketed via Tru-Cape, the largest exporter of South African apples and pears, Mr Cillié, at the farm Laastedrif in the Ceres valley, also produces 10 vegetable lines and other fruit.
“There is a lot of perfectly good and healthy fruit and vegetables that the customer does not want to buy. A carrot that is broken, a butternut that is misshapen or an apple or pear that is not perfect looking.
“Rather than allow this food to go to waste, we are using our added-value facility where we prepare ready-to-use vegetables and salads, to cut up the food and package it into hearty soup mixes and vegetable packs for the community,” he says.
One Tru-Cape Happi Pack of apples or pears, for example, is breakfast for a week. In conjunction with Agri SA, they are donating about 1 000 boxes of food a week as well as donating to soup kitchens who feed about 800 people.
In May, Tru-Cape supported The Hunger Month initiative with Food Lover’s Market and Food Forward SA, to donate one million meals to the hungry.
Tru-Cape managing director, Roelf Pienaar, said that Tru-Cape had supported Hunger Month for a number of years now but in 2020, with the impact of Covid-19, the need seemed that much greater.
“Tru-Cape (which has its offices in Somerset West) is pleased to be able to contribute in this important way in helping put food on the table.
“We thank our loyal customers for purchasing our products at Food Lover’s stores, which has allowed us to contribute to more than one million meals for the hungry.” says Mr Pienaar.
Mr Cillié says that with Agri SA’s contribution, the donated food parcels also include maize and other food staples.
In addition to Laastedrif’s food-parcel donation they are also supporting their seasonal workers who, as a result of lockdown restrictions, were not able to return to other jobs.
In Genadendal, Bereaville, Boschmanskloof, Voorstekraal and Heuwelkroon near Greyton, Tru-Cape growers in the Elgin/Grabouw, Villiersdorp and Vyeboom valleys are also supporting local communities with fruit donations.
Two-a-Day donated a few tons of fruit a week to people in need and supported the community-driven feeding scheme.
Reverend Marius Greeff, of the Dutch Reformed Church in Greyton, which celebrated 100 years in the community in 2018, is just one of the community leaders delivering food and support.
“Before the lockdown I spoke to the guys from the Anglican Church about what was in place to support the community, foreseeing the potential impact of Covid-19 on jobs,” he says.
“Eventually, all the Greyton community associations teamed together,” he adds.
Under the auspices of the Red Cross, who logistically had the infrastructure in place at grassroots level, a food-parcel project was initiated.
“We have collected R700 000 so far, a sum far greater than had we done it alone. This isn’t about the church, it is about the need, and it is on-going.
“We have been supporting about 500 families weekly with food parcels, and donations. We received just seven support parcels from government and it would have been chaos here if this project hadn’t been created.
“Following the food-parcel project, we are now busy with a gardening project where households will be assisted in growing their own vegetables in the long term,” he says.
Reverend Greeff says that food and financial donations are always appreciated.
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