Supermarket Chains and Government to enable People’s Pantries and Solidarity Buying

To: Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, President, Republic of South Africa Ms Angela Thokozile Didiza, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, South Africa Mr Ebrahim Patel, Minister of Trade and Industry, South Africa Mrs Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, South Africa Mrs Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs Mr Yusuf Kalla, CEO Cash n Carry Mr Peter Engelbrecht, CEO Shoprite Mr Guy Hayward, CEO Cambridge Food Subsidiary of Massmart Mr Brian Coppin, CEO Food Lover’s Market Mr Mitchell Slape, CEO Game Mr Richard Brasher, CEO Pick n Pay Mr Graham O’Conner CEO Spar Ms Zyda Rylands CEO Woolworths South Africa and Mr Roy Bagattini, CEO Woolworths Holdings Limited
Background The South African Food Sovereignty Campaign has been campaigning against food injustices in the country for the past 6 years. In this time, we have hosted a hunger tribunal with the Human Rights Commission, drought speak outs with local communities, a bread march, food sovereignty festivals and have actively advanced food sovereignty pathways in communities, villages, towns and cities involving small scale farmers. As the drought worsened we also developed a Peoples Food Sovereignty Act (available here: ). We handed this to parliament and seven government Ministries. Up to now there has been no serious consideration of such a peoples driven approach to food sovereignty. Food security is not enough to address the systemic crises of our food system. In 2019, 14 million people went to bed hungry. Women have been at the frontline of this crisis through skipping meals, rationing food in their families and sharing whatever they can through community solidarity.
Our Concerns and Proposal While we commend the government for its decisive action on Covid-19, the lock down intensifies food inequality and hunger. Many people are as likely to die from hunger as from the spread of Covid-19 infection. Hunger is also going to be a trigger for social conflict. The lock-down makes the situation desperate and makes it difficult to get food to communities in need. South Africans know this and are keen to assist through donations. We need to do this in a way that does not endanger any person. This can be done within current regulations through in-store peoples pantries as collection sites and ‘solidarity buying’ every time a person goes to a supermarket. Government is relying on the corporate controlled food system including supermarkets to ensure people are fed. Many South African’s cannot afford to shop in these supermarkets, deemed essential services, and supermarkets are making large profits. Prices for essentials also seem to be creeping upwards and there is tendency to profiteer from those goods most
needed during the lock down. Most supermarkets have a reach across the country, including urban and rural areas. Government police services and the defence force are at the direct interface with communities. Sustaining a peaceful situation is proving to be difficult in many poor communities. To assist, police and soldiers can keep the peace by playing a central role in distributing solidarity goods. Both supermarket chain stores and government can make this happen together with concerned citizens and local leaders.
Demands: Supermarket Chains and Government to enable Peoples’ Pantries and Solidarity Buying We demand the following from supermarket chains and government:
(i) Every supermarket chain to set up a people’s pantry in every store. This will be a collection system in every supermarket for consumers to donate a bag of groceries, medical and other essential goods (priced ethically). All stores to provide a free ‘people’s pantry bag’ (preferably brown paper bag for at least 2 kg of goods), at the entrance so it is clearly visible, with promotional information and signs so consumers are aware of this choice. Such an option must also be available online; (ii) These supermarkets must work with government to ensure the food reaches food stressed communities. We demand the police and SANDF play a central role in distributing these ‘people pantry bags’ or solidarity goods. This must be done together with local faith based and community leaders playing a monitoring role. Government must publicly account for this in the messaging from the Disaster Management Command Structure; (iii) All urban supermarkets must send donated food to rural supermarket pantries; (iv) All supermarkets to keep proper records of food quantities donated (how many bags) and information on where food is distributed. Such records must be kept and audited after the pandemic. This information must be made available to the South African Food Sovereignty Campaign when it demands such; (v) All unsold fresh goods in supermarkets must be given to workers.
Way Forward Our proposal contains three parts: a role for supermarket chains, a role for government and a role for faith and community based leaders. There is room for supermarkets to innovate in dialogue with communities about ethical pricing and the provisioning of solidarity goods through people’s pantries. Government can do more even with the air force, navy and its capacities. A peace keeping role can be strengthened with the distribution of solidarity goods by security personnel but also using mess facilities to prepare meals, establish field kitchens and hospitals for communities in need.
Community and faith based leaders will engage supermarkets and the SANDF/SAPS with these demands from Monday the 6th April onwards.
We have also initiated a petition which we will keep going until these demands are realised. It is available here:
On Monday the 6th April we are also calling on all who live in South Africa, and who shop in supermarkets to raise these demands every time they go to a supermarket.
Several organisations have also endorsed these demands. A list is provided below but we will continue getting endorsements for these demands and encouraging organisations to message on this until these demands are realised.
We look forward to your response.

For more information, contact: Davine Cloete, West Coast Food Sovereignty and Solidarity Forum and SAFSC activist, 071 592 2361 Vishwas Satgar, Board Chairperson Cooperative and Policy Alternative Centre and SAFSC activist, 082 775 3420 Francesca de Gasparis, SAFCEI (Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute), 0787395272 Ayanda Kota, Unemployed Peoples Movement, 078 625 6462
Organisational Endorsements: Update list available at: 1. South African Food Sovereignty Campaign 2. Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre 3. Stage for Change 4. Unemployed Peoples Movement 5. Triangle Project 6. Engineers Without Borders Wits 7. Childrens Resource Centre 8. African Climate Reality Project 9. Phaphama Initiatives 10. Earthrise Trust 11. Solidarity Institute for Strategic Labour Affairs 12. Solidarity 13. West Coast Food Sovereignty and Solidarity forum 14. Naledi 15. Abanebhongo Persons with Disabilities 16. Johannesburg Against Injustice 17. African Centre for Biodiversity 18. Arya Samaj South Africa (APS) 19. Inspire Networks 20. Consumer Action Network 21. Veda Dharma Sabha, Pietermaritzburg 22. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance 23. The Tara Rokpa Centre 24. Ntinga Ntaba kaNdoda Rural Movement 25. Physics School Council 26. Active Citizen’s Movement 27. Extinction rebellion Gauteng 28. JEMS Foundation 29. Rural People’s Movement 30. Eastern Cape United Front 31. Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute 32. Rethinking Economics for Africa Wits 33. International Labour Research and Information Group 34. Extinction Rebellion Eastern Cape 35. Extinction Rebellion Western Cape.

  1. Support Centre for Land Change 37. Extinction Rebellion SA
    Individual Endorsements: Updated list available at Title First Name

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