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Since 2012, Rise Against Hunger and Zambrero have partnered together to provide over 34 million meals to support school feeding programs in communities across Africa, Asia and the Americas through the Plate 4 Plate program — for every burrito or bowl purchased, a meal is donated to someone in need. In September, Rise Against Hunger staff member Julia Banks joined Zambrero on a journey to witness first-hand their impact on children enrolled in school feeding programs in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Each and every day, we face challenges or obstacles that define where and how we live our lives. Whether it’s the traffic on our way to the office, spilling our coffee, dealing with a challenging situation at work or burning dinner. These are all inconveniences in our daily lives that we often allow to make or break our outlook. But I want to ask you: Could you imagine not having a meal at all that day, or the day before? Could you imagine, after a day of labor-intensive work, going home to in the midst of rain, for the first time in weeks, flooding your family’s one-room home and drought-ridden region? 

In September, I joined Zambrero staff and franchise owners on an in-country partner trip to witness first-hand the impact of our meals in the city and surrounding settlements of Johannesburg, South Africa. We visited the communities of Soweto, Diepsloot, Orange Farm and Lehae to talk and work with individuals who face daily challenges just like I described above. 

During our trip, we visited with and delivered meals to school feeding programs at Early Childhood Development Centers (ECDs) serving children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years where Rise Against Hunger meals are a staple in their diets. Each of these ECDs are safe havens where women mold young children and encourage them to continue their education. Each ECD we visited was assigned a readiness level, which signaled the level of infrastructure and preparedness for each school. We saw the difference each level offered and how vast the level of support differed with each school. There were ECDs that were housed in shipping containers or corrugated homes, with the most advanced housed in trailers. What I really enjoyed about this experience is that we had the opportunity to engage and interact with the children on their level — dancing with them, playing games and letting them teach us what they are learning in school.     

In addition to visiting our school feeding programs, we also visited sustainable gardens in Orange Farm where Rise Against Hunger is providing resources and agricultural training. These community gardens provide residents a chance to diversify their diets and become skilled in subsistence and climate change gardening. Led by our technical expert and engineer, Ravi, these gardens are producing healthy and plentiful spinach, carrots, onions, peppers, tomatoes and moringa. Zambrero staff had the opportunity to plant spinach in one of the gardens, which will be used in Rise Against Hunger meals for one of the school feeding programs in the area.  

This week spent in South Africa affirmed for me the positive change that comes from collaboration. Are you inspired to engage your company in the mission to end hunger? Please visit our Corporate Partnerships page to get started!

Shared in Blog, Corporate Partners, Nourishing Lives