News

Tracy-Lee Stark
2 minute read
12 Jun 2020
6:05 am

Melville couple feed unemployed, hungry residents

Tracy-Lee Stark

Sean and Tanya Gardiner recognised a need in their community and started the Melville feeding scheme, falling under the umbrella of the Viva Foundation.

Unemployed Melville residents collect food parcels from the Viva Foundation, funded by various generous individuals as well as local businesses at Baptist Heritage Church, 11 June 2020. The parcels will be distributed to over 300 people in the area. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

As the country descended into lockdown in March it spelled uncertainty for many and while relief measures were put in place as a means to manage the impact of the pandemic, some were left severely impacted by the coronavirus as much-needed relief never came.

Sean and Tanya Gardiner recognised a need in their community and started the Melville feeding scheme, falling under the umbrella of Viva Foundation, on 16 April to address growing hunger issues in their area.

They put together a relief package for six families that they knew were battling to survive. Word spread fast and they soon found a queue of others outside their gate pleading for aid.

The pair continues to help as many people as they can from their home and admit that turning people away is never an option.

The packs provided contain enough supplies to feed a family of around four for at least a week.

As queues grew, Melville residents started taking notice of their philanthropy and donations started trickling in.

In the past three weeks, the foundation has distributed 777 complete food parcels, at a conservative estimate of over 43,500 meals. The majority of recipients are residents of Melville and immediate surrounds.

The parcels differ slightly each week based on prices and availability of items. The most recent food parcel consisted of 3-4kg of fresh vegetables such as potatoes, butternuts and onions, sugar, salt, cooking oil, beans, pap, soup packets, a 5kg bag of maize meal and soap.

The foundation recently moved to the Heritage Baptist Church and now has over 20 volunteers helping.

Unemployed Melville residents collect food parcels from the Viva Foundation, funded by various generous individuals as well as local businesses at Baptist Heritage Church, 11 June 2020. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Once the donations are received, volunteers help unpack deliveries, sort groceries and repack the bags to be handed out.

Parcels are handed out on a ticket system. Once they’ve applied to receive a ticket, recipients are guaranteed to receive a food parcel. If people does not have a ticket, they are put on the list to receive a ticket the following week.

During the latest distribution, they asked recipients of the parcels if they were employed before the lockdown. Of the 316 recipients surveyed, 40% of the group were employed before the lockdown started. Of this group, 65% were formally employed and nearly half of the previously employed were working in the hospitality sector.

The majority of businesses in Melville are restaurants, followed by retail and a number of B&Bs.

The next largest category of services includes domestic work (39%), security, car guarding, salon work, garden services, postal work, secretarial work, and private transport.

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