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LEAD SA calls on South Africans to roll up their sleeves to help curb hunger and contribute towards food security by planting their own vegetable gardens in their homes and workplaces.

At the launch of Nelson Mandela International Day (Mandela Day) 2014 in April, then Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe announced food security as one of the three major themes, with the other two being literacy and shelter.

"Food insecurity is not just a global concern, but is affecting South Africa too," the Nelson Mandela Foundation said in a statement shortly after the launch.

"According to a research report released by the Human Sciences Research Foundation (HSRC) in August, only 45,6% of the South African population is food secure."

Lead SA has partnered with various organisations in Gauteng to help facilitate Mandela Day events where members of the public will be taught the skills needed to plant and maintain their own vegetable gardens.

These organisations include Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ), the African Children's Feeding Scheme (ACFS) as well as the Dis-Chem Foundation.

"Too many South Africans go to sleep hungry every day with no idea what they will eat the next morning," said Lead SA's Terry Volkwyn.

"It's also unacceptable that children go to school on empty stomachs and are expected to concentrate in class."

"In the true spirit of active citizenship, we encourage South Africans to heed the call to curb hunger not only by starting their own vegetable gardens on their pavements, but by also donating surplus food to feeding schemes in our communities," Volkwyn added.

The Mandela Day events will take place on the Friday 18th of July in various areas across the province including Midrand, Eldorado Park, Jabavu, Meadowlands, Orange Farm, Naledi and Zola and the public will be taught various gardening skills including planting techniques, container gardening and pest control.

ACFS, which feeds over 31 000 children each day through their feeding centres and mobile vans, will host an educational activation at four of its centres (Jabavu, Zola, Meadowlands and Naledi) where stalls will be set up to expose community members to different types of food gardening.

A similar event will take place on Mandela Day at the Dis-Chem Foundation's community garden in Midrand which was launched earlier this year to assist community members in the area.

"With the work that the Dis-Chem Foundation does, we have noticed the increasing need for food in a large number of communities, so we developed our own community vegetable garden," said the Foundation's Lynette Saltzman.

Saltzman added that the second phase of their garden project will be to allocate allotments of the garden to members of different communities in and around Midrand including Diepsloot and Tembisa.

"The Foundation will also empower these community members with the necessary skills they will need to grow, maintain and sell their vegetables from their own allotments."

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo supports the call to action by Lead SA for communities to unite in the fight against hunger.

Under the theme, "Harvest4Madiba" City Parks and Zoo will distribute fruit trees across Johannesburg, showcase small scale farming in Lakeside, Orange Farm; refurbish parks; distribute food hampers and reclaim illegal dumping sites in Eldorado Park.

"We all have a moral responsibility to follow in the footsteps of Madiba, who stated that 'we have to put back what we take from the environment,'" said City Parks and Zoo managing director, Bulumko Nelana.

For logistical purposes, members of the public need to register through www.leadsa.co.za to volunteer at the various participation areas mentioned above.

Lead SA will also create a community vegetable garden at their premises, Primedia Place in Sandton.

"We encourage other companies and businesses to assist in fighting hunger by transforming their front verges into vegetable gardens which could feed many more South Africans," added Volkwyn.

In support of this campaign, the The Star and other Independent Group of Newspapers will publish features on different types of food gardens including rooftop gardens, suburban pavement gardens as well as large scale community gardens.

The Star has also committed to creating a container garden at their building in downtown Johannesburg, with the produce being donated to organisations in the inner city.

Proudly SA has added its support to Lead SA's food garden campaign. "Madiba will be remembered as one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th Century who embodied compassion, forgiveness and a limitless love for people.

"Proudly SA calls on the nation to honour his memory by living out his legacy and giving 67 minutes to a worthy cause. It's our turn to carry the baton and continue his legacy, with humanity at the core of everything we do," said CEO, Adv. Leslie Sedibe.

Various activations are also being planned for the Western Cape and details will be circulated soon .

For more information on food gardening tips as well as how you can take part in these and other Mandela Day events, please visit www.leadsa.co.za

For more information, please contact:
Tshiamo Ndlovu
Lead SA
t: 011 506 3545
c: 082 844 6316