BUILDING A HEALTHY SOUTH AFRICA THROUGH PROPER NUTRITIONSarel Ferreira
The 2019 World Food Day (WFD) is dedicated to highlighting the importance of nutrition as a basis for healthy living globally. Meals on Wheels Community Service South Africa (MOWCS SA) is championing this cause in South Africa. The importance of nutrition for healthy living will be the central theme as MOWCS SA cooks and serves at least 10 000 meals to disadvantaged targeted beneficiaries on the 16th of October at Nasrec Expo Center in Johannesburg. Traditionally titled “Cook-A-Thon”, MOWCS SA will lead and coordinate various sectoral organisations in both cooking and serving of meals. The organisations are drawn from the public and private sectors; media; and Non-Profit Organisations working on the fight against hunger and malnutrition.
The WFD (October 16) is a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) sanctioned day set to highlight the global plight of hunger and poverty and galvanize various sectors into action. This year, the FAO has identified two interrelated themes: healthy nutrition and the preservation of the environment.
Increasingly, the issue is no longer just the lack of food, but also: what food is to be produced; consumed; and its impact on the health of individuals and environment. These principles are in the strategic mainstream of the programmes and projects undertaken by MOWCS SA. These are the issues that MOWCS SA will demonstrate and highlight as it commemorates the World Food Day on the 16th of October at Nasrec in Johannesburg.
For MOWCS SA therefore, the WFD is more than a day’s events. It is a day that seeds of consciousness about the hunger, lack of nutrition, and health hazards that emanate from lack of, and poor nutrition, are cultivated in the minds of South Africans. It is a day that whilst MOWCS SA will highlight the challenges of poverty and malnutrition, it will also highlight the possibility of the solution.
According to the FAO (www.fao.org), the last few years has seen a massive growth in what is traditionally called “diseases of lifestyle”. These includes consumptions of the not-so-healthy diets; and the decline in physical activities, mainly, exercises. This has elevated unhealthy factors such as obesity which comes with a whole range of health factors such as risks of cardiovascular diseases.
In response to this global growing phenomenon, the FAO is increasingly emphasizing the importance of healthy diets, and exercise. However, even more important, the FAO also emphasizing the protection of the environment. That is, whilst advocating the cultivation of healthy foods, it is important that this is done within the context of protecting the planet earth.
This is one of the strategic commitments of MOWCS SA. It is a commitment to grow nutritious food, and most probably organic foods. Processes are underway to secure relevant certification from the relevant authorities. In this way, MOWCS SA is leading this FAO undertaking of marrying appropriate production of good nutritional foods, whilst protecting the environment.
In this regard, MOWCS SA is operating four farms across the following provinces: Gauteng; Limpopo; Mpumalanga; and KwaZulu/Natal. Through these farms, MOWCS SA moves from the traditional charity of mere food provision, to food production capacity. In this instance, in both the meals that MOWCS SA cooks and distributes, and the food it produces, is rich in proper nutrition, and therefore, contributing to healthy individuals, collective, and society.
It is within this strategic context that MOWCS SA will prepare and deliver more than 10 000 nutritional meals to targeted beneficiaries on WFD, in and around Johannesburg on the 16th of October 2019. This undertaking is more than the events of the day. It forms part of the organizational drive to highlight the plight of the poor, and the generally socio-economic deprived sections of society.
Through such events, MOWCS SA is championing the drive to realise a “Hunger Free South Africa”. However, more than just a “Hunger Free South Africa”, MOWCS SA is demonstrating a crucial outcome that can be achieved when a cross section of stakeholders come together for the common purpose of eradicating hunger in South Africa.
Thus, on the 2019 WFD, MOWCS SA will coordinate a number of public and private sector organisations; Non – Governmental Institutions; and some media organisations in cooking and serving at least ten thousand meals. In the process, MOWCS SA will demonstrate the plight of the disadvantaged in this country. In the same vain, it will demonstrate the possibility that the scourge of hunger in South Africa can be defeated by a collective and collaborative efforts. It will demonstrate that the hunger in South Africa can be eradicated within the available food reserves, but that more sectors need to collaborate in this agenda.
There is a growing consciousness and recognition of nutrition as an important health element. According to the FAO, appropriate diets, exercise and healthy lifestyles are essential in the current world that has seen major changes in what people eat over the last ten years or so. Accordingly, the 2019 World Food Day goes beyond attempts to achieve “Zero Hunger” across the world but to also “nourishing the people”. This is particularly important because people who suffer malnutrition, are very vulnerable to diseases. This is mainly because their immune system is compromised. It is for this reason that health through proper nutrition is a central theme in this year’s WFD.
It is for this reason that MOWCS SA has invited the following state institutions: Health; Agriculture; Social Development; and Education. Good nutrition is a great preventative “medication”. It curbs diseases from developing. Appropriate nutrition curbs the would be burden on the health infrastructure and system of South Africa. It is therefore crucial that Agricultural products should be healthy; whilst society from childhood is educated on the importance of producing and consuming nutritious foods.
For MOWCS SA therefore, the 2019 WFD is not just an event, but a continuous process of feeding everyone with proper nutrition and building a healthy South Africa.
Article written by Dumisani Hlophe