FoodForward SA – Community Engagement with ATS

The Agrifood Technology Station has had the pleasure of meeting with a not for profit organization, focused on surplus food recovery, called FoodForward SA (FFSA), in the last period. To find out more about them, please click on the link to visit their website. Suffice to say that it is a noble enterprise that is being used as a catalyst for social change (their words). Their model promotes 11 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

In a nutshell, the organization receives quality bulk edible surplus food from wholesalers, retailers, and manufacturers like Pick n Pay, Shoprite Checkers, Food Lovers Market, Nestle, Clover and many others. These products are then vetted by FoodForward SA and, if appropriate for ongoing donations, a “not for sale” tag is applied and the product is then donated to member beneficiary organizations that offer feeding programs in local communities. This model is called foodbanking. In addition, where farms have surplus or post-harvest raw materials, these may also be donated in a usable form – this is their Second Harvest concept which is also practiced around the world.

So, where does ATS come into this you may ask? Good question! FoodForward SA often cannot predict what it will receive from donors. In the case of raw materials such fruit and vegetables, this sometimes poses a two-fold challenge:

    • The quantity provided is too much to distribute quickly (tons);
    • A short shelf-life product means the need for very quick distribution e.g. cherry tomatoes, kiwi fruit.

This challenge has a number of potential solutions, some of which are expensive or not totally effective i.e. long-lasting. This is possibly where ATS could play a role. The first two which come to mind are:

  1. Process product to a more stable state i.e. cook or pasteurize;
  2. Convert to an alternative-use product e.g. to a paste, powder or ingredient to be used to prepare other food products.

Obviously ATS only has limited capacity but, since an opportunity has presented itself, a trial may soon be conducted to prove this concept of assisting FoodForward SA on a small, and possibly growing basis. It would be a matter of making the way by walking it.

But hey! This is not just about what ATS may be able to do in a direct manner, but also about what we can do to promote FoodForward SA to our own stakeholders. As a start, here’s two things:

  1. ATS will promote FoodForward SA for a limited time by including the FoodForward SA logo and web link in my own e-mail signature.
  2. We ask all stakeholders who read this blog to consider which companies in the Western Cape, big or small, who could further commit to donations of appropriate food products which may end up as landfill or animal feed. Contact me directly or you could send a mail about the possibility to info@foodforwardsa.org.

Let’s see if we can help them make a further difference.

Larry Dolley