Eighteen years ago a social worker from Westville Baptist trained a group of community health workers in one of CAST’s communities — the problem, they told her, is that we give the people their medicine, but they have no food and they cannot take it on an empty stomach. As a result, CAST’s food parcel ministry was born. Since then, CAST has distributed 30,000 food parcels—about 3 million meals.
Currently there are 326 families on CAST’s food parcel programme. Each food parcel is designed to feed a family of four for ten days. The parcels include basic food items such as maize, samp, beans, morvite, oil, peanut butter, soya mince, stock cubes, and soup mix. In the communities where CAST works, households are assessed by CAST community workers who work closely with schools, clinics, and churches in the communities.
A household qualifies for the food parcel programme if they:
- Live below the poverty line according to MDG Standards
- Have a disability or critical illness (e.g. HIV)
- Are child – headed
- Shack dwellers/ informal housing
- Short term crises relief due to fire, flood, etc
CAST’s food parcels are a lifeline for the most vulnerable in the community – oftentimes widows and children. Below are a few stories of those who have been impacted by the food parcel programme in KwaDabeka:
Joyce is a gogol who is the sole caretaker for her four orphaned grandchildren. Battling to support the entire family solely through her pension, she sought help at the children’s school. Joyce was referred to CAST’s Social Worker, Samke Mbatha, who assisted her with school fee exemption and being put on CAST’s food parcel programme. With the additional food from the food parcel, Joyce is better able to care for her grandchildren. The children were also excited to receive Lovebox gifts at Christmastime! While Joyce still battles to provide for her family, she has big dreams for her grandchildren – that they will finish school and find great jobs.
Elizabeth is a pensioner who supports seven individuals – mostly children. Even though it only lasts for two weeks, the food parcel is vital to her household. Her youngest grandchild was abandoned by the parents at birth because the mother was smoking whoongah. Now two years old, the child has no birth certificate and is staying with her. On top of everything else, Elizabeth lives in fear because a man staying near them who abuses drugs often steals the keys for her home and robs their household. Despite all these challenges, Elizabeth is a Christian and believes in the power of God.
James 1:27 says “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” God calls us to care for the most vulnerable in our communities – those who can easily be taken advantage of and who are the victims of injustice. Both Joyce and Elizabeth are examples of why the food parcel programme is so vital in the communities where CAST works. How can we share the gospel if those we are preaching to have no way to feed their children?
The goal of CAST’s food parcel programme is to empower households to be self-sufficient through the support of CAST’s holistic programmes such as business development. However in the meantime, CAST food parcel programme assists households to get back on their feet.
With the rising cost of food, the cost of one food parcel has jumped from R140 to R180 in the past month. In order to assist individuals such as Joyce and Elizabeth, CAST needs to raise additional funds to continue the food parcel programme. Please consider partnering with CAST in caring for the most vulnerable in our communities by living out the call of James 1:27.
If you are interested in giving towards or volunteering with CAST’s food parcel programme, please contact Amy Benn at: firstname.lastname@example.org