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NPOs, civil groups struggling to feed the impoversished during lockdown

Non-profit organisations are struggling to help SA's many impoverished people, but are soldiering on to ensure no one starves.

Johannesburg Environmental and Infrastructure MMC Mpho Moerane hands over maize to a waste picker during a food hamper drive at Innes Free Park in Sandton. Picture: Ahmed Kajee/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Non-profit and civil organisations providing food hampers to those in need during the lockdown have named finances, low volunteer numbers and crowd control as some of the major challenges they are facing.

Organisations and the public have been working together to offer support for the homeless, impoverished and the elderly who are struggling to cope.

Non-profit organisations including Supply Development Initiative, Islamic Relief SA, Soul Food Africa and Nosh Food Rescue have been packing and distributing food hampers for the poor over the last two weeks.

They said that with only essential workers allowed out, workers such as waste pickers, nannies and casual workers face days without food.

Food co-ordinator with Nosh Food Rescue Philipe Frydman told Eyewitness News that the major difficulty when handing out food was maintaining social distancing.

"When you have 400 people who are starving, it's always difficult for them to stay 1m apart."

WATCH: Help for the helpless: The silver lining amid COVID-19's dark cloud

Ashraf Soomra, a core volunteer at Islamic Relief SA, said that the lockdown had impacted finances and the number of volunteers who could work on each day.

"In a normal situation, we'd normally have between 50 and 100 volunteers packing." Under lockdown regulations, gatherings have been outlawed, with funerals being the only times when up to 50 people may gather.

Food hampers from these organisations are going out almost every day to different areas around Gauteng.

*Read: 18 places you can donate food for coronavirus-hit people

With food hampers being distributed to marginalised communities around the country, recipients say the supplies go a long way in making the national lockdown easier.

One pensioner from KwaThema in Springs said that being in lockdown with her grandchildren all day meant that she couldn't provide for them.

"We as grannies, we only get salaries once and then we cannot get hold of the things and we're staying with the grandchildren at home, so we cannot go anywhere."

In the same area, one man who received toiletries from Islamic Relief SA said that it should last him for the next two weeks.

"If you have toothpaste and something to eat, we know we're going to sleep nicely. These soaps and things [are] going to last me about two weeks."

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.