Ina Opperman

By Ina Opperman

Business Journalist

R569 000 Inkwazi feast could feed 610 children for a month

While guests on the presidential jet were spoiled for choice with prawns and calamari, children die of malnutrition.

The R569 000 feast served on board of Inkwazi, the presidential jet, on its way back from Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral last year, could have paid for nutritional food for 610 poor children for a month.

According to the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group that conducts a monthly survey of food prices, the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet was R932,73 in October 2023.

The child support grant of R500 is 25% below the Food Poverty Line of R663 and 45% below the average cost to feed a child a basic nutritious diet. The group says low-income consumers buy core foods first to ensure that their families do not go hungry while ensuring that meals can be cooked.

However, when the prices of core foods increase, there is less money to secure other important, mostly nutritionally rich foods, which are essential for health and well-being and strong immune systems.

These foods include meat, eggs and dairy, which are critical for protein, iron and calcium, as well as vegetables and fruit which are critical for vitamins, minerals and fibre and maas, peanut butter and pilchards, that contain the good fats, protein and calcium essential for children to grow.

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The data shows that the core foods contribute 55% of the total cost of the basket. At the average cost of R932,73, these foods are relatively very expensive in relation to the total money available in the household budget to buy food.

The group says low-income consumers must buy these foods regardless of price escalations. “The high cost of core staple foods result in a lot of proper nutritious food being removed off the family plates. The consequences of high costs on the availability of core foods have a negative impact on overall household health and well-being as well as child development.”

Low-income consumers cannot afford nutritious food for children

As financial and economic circumstances worsen, so too does household health and nutrition. The gap between what women can buy and what they need to buy for proper nutrition widens, the group warns.

According to an inquiry conducted by the Eastern Cape branch of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) between April 2021 and March 2022, 1 087 children in the Eastern Cape suffered from severe acute malnutrition. 116 children literally starved to death.

In addition, 27% of children in the province suffered from stunting as a result of malnutrition, with black children the most affected. The SAHRC said in the report that it is clear that malnutrition and hunger are not only adversely affecting children’s growth and development. They are losing their lives as a result of being hungry.

“Malnutrition further poses an immediate and long-term threat to children’s health, survival and development. It weakens children’s immune systems, contributes to under-five mortality, hinders physical growth and cognitive development, impedes educational and employment prospects and perpetuates a cycle of poverty and ill-health across generations,” the researchers said.

“This “slow violence” of malnutrition is often overlooked until it exacts a heavy toll in lives.”

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