Mayor delivers on promise to feed hungry

City of Cape Town executive mayor, Dan Plato, and Somerset West Rotary Club president, Eppie McFarlane, listen attentively to Lorraine Emery, coordinator of the food relief effort in Sir Lowrys Pass Village, as she explains how the system functions.

An undertaking made a month ago by City of Cape Town executive mayor, Dan Plato, was honoured when he visited the Helderberg Basin last Thursday to capacitate two soup kitchens.

The two soup kitchens – one in Garden Village, Somerset West, the other in Sir Lowry’s Pass Village – have been mainstays in helping to keep hunger at bay for many years, but they have played an even greater role during the lockdown period, with the increase in joblessness, and the rising tide of hunger.

“This is number 101 of the 200 hundred soup kitchens in the City of Cape Town that we are helping with equipment and supplies, as I promised I would do when we met at Vergelegen. What was it, a month ago?” said Mr Plato, to which the Garden Village soup kitchen ladies responded with a chorus of thank yous and appreciation for how rapidly Mr Plato had responded to their request for assistance.

“We are distributing this equipment to every ward in the City of Cape Town because we cannot have people only dependent on food parcels. This is an on-going initiative to capacitate the going concerns, such as this soup kitchen,” Mr Plato said.

“When I leave here, I am going to the soup kitchen in Sir Lowry’s Pass Village which will be number 102 to be capacitated.”

The equipment delivered by
Mr Plato consisted of a three-burner gas cooking range, two gargantuan soup pots, a large cylinder of gas, and an array of dry ingredients, such as rice, soya mix and dry soup mix.

Sub-council 24 chair, Stuart Pringle, said: “Mayor Plato, it’s a great pleasure to have you here in the Helderberg, and thank you for responding so rapidly to the community’s request for help. A special thank you to the City officials too, who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to make this happen.”

“There are a number of organisations that have been feeding the hungry for many years, including Helderberg Ubuntu Feeds, which is the project I put together with the Rotary Club of Somerset West, then obviously what the mayor has given us.

“We also have a young businessman, Tony McPherson, who runs the McPherson Foundation, sources products in bulk and packages food parcels, Vergelegen wine estate which makes 200 hot meals at its two restaurants every day, and 100 loaves of bread weekly from Blue Ribbon Bakeries, all for distribution by Helderberg Ubuntu Feeds via the various community structures in the Helderberg.”

Next stop for Mr Plato was Sir Lowry’s Pass Village, where he visited the soup kitchen run by Lizaan October, to deliver a gas cooking range, pots, gas cylinder, and dry goods.

Also present was a Blue Ribbon representative, who made a once off delivery of 1 000 litres of hot soup, prepared by Woodstock Brewery, one of a number of small-scale brewers, that are using their brewing kettles during lockdown to feed the hungry, because they cannot brew beer. In short order, Mr Plato got involved in portioning soup for the long queue of people waiting expectantly for possibly their only meal of the day.

The feeding scheme is housed in “Die Tappie”, formerly a pub adjacent to the railway line which passes through the village.

The building has been and renovated by Lorraine Emery of Wedderwill Country Estate, and renamed “Die Kosblik”, which is the centre of operations.

“I manage the Wedderwill Trust,” Ms Emery said, “and we decided to get involved during lockdown. Initially we didn’t have enough funds so I went out and had a bit of a look around to see what we could raise.

“We started with Ladles of Love, SOS Africa and our church, Every Nation Church in Somerset West. We all support and we all donate food. I put the food parcels together with Lizaan (October) and the ladies from the community, and we just give out as much as comes in.

“Lizaan cooks for 90 elderly people and a number of infants in the community every day, and that food is delivered by a group of runners.

“Lizaan cooks for 300 people every day, and over and above that last month, we fed 500 families, including the elderly, in the community.”

Ms Emery said that her husband had funded the six-month lease for “Die Kosblik”, which runs to end December.

“Nothing is cast in stone. We will continue as long as there are people who want to give. The Sir Lowry’s Pass Trust holds the lease (on “Die Kosblik”) from the City of Cape Town, and they are very happy for us to be doing this work, so if I want to extend the lease it will be no problem.”