Saving children from the ravages of malnutrition for nearly 75 years
Established in 1945, the ACFS is a registered Non-Profit Organisation (NPO No. 001-213) and Public Beneficiary Organisation (PBO no. 930000475) which operates under the leadership of a Board of Trustees.
Ours was the original peanut butter sandwich and milk feeding scheme – and this humble meal remains at the core of our flagship feeding project.
Over the years, the organisation has grown and developed to provide a holistic programme aimed at enabling all children to reach their potential.
We now have 13 community centres in Soweto, Alexandra, Kagiso, Thembisa and Tsakane, where food is prepared and served to pre-schoolers and school children who have been identified as being at risk. Each centre has a well established communal food garden, where volunteers from the community grow vegetables for the feeding scheme, as well as for their own use.
The centres act as community hubs, providing early childhood development programmes and a range of support services for families – such as access to information and resources such as computers, skills training and personal development.
None of this would be possible without the support of thousands of caring South Africans – ordinary members of the public as well as influential businessmen and women – who provide the funds to sustain our organisation.
ACFS is dedicated to the development and protection of children and their families through a focus on improving access to nutrition, health, early learning and stimulation, as well as skills development.
- To create enabling environments where children can thrive and learn;
- To help combat unemployment by training a variety of skills that enable and enhance income generating social enterprises, e.g. food gardens;
- To create a safe, creative and an enabling environment that meets the unique needs of all children.
Steps to a better future
Children are weighed and measured at schools and clinics to identify those at risk.
Children are enrolled in our feeding scheme and their progress is monitored.
ACFS staff visit the families of under nourished children to learn their circumstances and assess their needs.
Families in need receive monthly food parcels to enable them to provide meals at home.
Toddlers are enrolled in our holistic care programme; they attend our centres daily, where they receive regular balanced meals and early childhood education.
Moms are encouraged to come to our centres and work in the communal food gardens – taking produce home to augment the family meals.
Women are encouraged to learn skills (sewing, beading, baking, etc) that will enable them to become self sufficient.
Young people have a safe space to discuss issues affecting them and develop resilience and skills for life.
meet the team
Message from our Chairman, Lwazi Bam
South Africa remains a highly unequal society and there are vast inequalities in children’s circumstances and opportunities from the moment they are born (SA ECR 2019).
From its very beginning, ACFS Community Education and Feeding Scheme has understood that it is critically important to level the playing field to ensure that all children are able to reach their full potential. Among the challenges faced by South African children are poverty, violence, hunger and a lack of educational opportunities. Despite its status as a middle-income country with a relatively high per capita income, South Africa has high levels of child malnutrition.
According to SA ECR 2019:
- 65% of young children live in households below the poverty line
- 27% of children under five are stunted – a sign of chronic malnutrition that compromises their health, education and employment prospects
- 42% of children have experienced some form of abuse (whether sexual, physical, emotional or neglect).
- 58% of children cannot read fluently and with comprehension at the end of grade 4
It is against this backdrop that ACFS, established over 74 years ago, continues to work with children and their families in the under resourced townships and communities of Soweto, Alexandra, Thembisa and Tsakane.
The bulk of our work involves targeted identification and assessment of children and families from poor and food insecure households. Our aim is to provide a welcoming and enabling environment where nutritional support, together with other early foundation services is delivered – all geared to providing disadvantaged children with the support they need to achieve their potential.
With the arrival of the fourth industrial revolution, technology is fundamentally changing the world, as we knew it. Educational systems and labour markets are fast changing and, in some instances, even rendering some professions obsolete.
The challenge for ACFS is to adapt as an organisation to ensure that we future-proof children. We find ourselves needing to embark on a journey to professionalise the organisation, staff and the services we offer to children and communities.
Our planning has also focused on the creation of an endowment facility, as well as establishing vigorous and diverse income streams in order to overcome the effects of the challenging global and local economic conditions.
I want to express my sincere appreciation to all the donors who have committed to our work. Without your support, we could not have accomplished anything. I invite all our friends to continue to support the disadvantaged South African Child.
ACFS Chairman of the Board
75 years of caring
Our history goes back to 1945, when the late Bishop Trevor Huddleston started soup kitchens in winter for hungry children in Alexandra and Soweto.
Five years later, the first permanent feeding centre was established and the scheme was feeding 4 000 children daily.
From the start, we understood that handouts were not a lasting solution. The tragedy of malnourished children was caused by poverty and lack of knowledge – and the focus of the scheme turned to health education and skills development programmes aimed at helping poverty-stricken people to become economically independent.
Over the years, 13 community centres were built in the worst affected areas of Soweto, Alexandra, Kagiso, Tembisa and Tsakane. Food is prepared at each centres, and children registered with the scheme would come at break time or after school for their daily peanut butter sandwich and cup of milk.
In addition, six vans and five tri-cars were used to deliver meals to needy children not within walking distance of a centre. These children received a portion of processed cheese, containing the equivalent calcium and minerals, instead of the milk.
A further 300 High School children are served hot meals prepared at the schools, using ingredients donated by our caring partners. Pre-school children attend two of our centres where they receive meals and participate in early education programmes.
Records are kept for each child – and failure to collect their meal acts as a warning that something may be amiss at home; one of our sisters will then call to check on the family at home.
Communal vegetables gardens were established at each centre, and families of children enrolled in the scheme are encouraged to work in the gardens and learn skills that enable them to start their own small veggie patch at home.
“God bless Africa,
Guard her people,
Guide her leaders,
And bring her peace.”
Bishop Trevor Huddleston, founder of ACFS
Partners and sponsors
ACFS is indebted to a wide circle of individual donors, companies and foundations who take a keen interest in our work and help with gifts of time, items, or cash. We are extremely grateful to our partners below. If your company is interested in supporting our work, please contact Bertha Magoge by emailing Bertha@acfs.org.za