uPhakantoni? What are you dishing?

In the wake of the COVID crisis, it has become challenging to access food in South Africa. Community kitchens can contribute significantly to food and nutrition security. But much more needs to be done. Community researchers from South Africa, along with Stefanie Lemke (Institute for Development Research) show how Community Kitchens can become places where human dignity and the right to food are strengthened.

In South Africa, as was the case in many countries around the world, strict measures were introduced against the COVID-19 pandemic. During lockdown, people were not allowed to leave their homes. The poorer sections of the population, who often depend on informal day-to-day jobs, lost their incomes and were unable to obtain food and to secure their livelihoods. In addition, informal food markets and school feeding programs that provide basic food supplies and represent a safety net were closed down.

In the absence of adequate governmental measures, community members, civil society organisations and other groups set up soup kitchens. However, the charitable character of these soup kitchens also raised criticism and led to establishing alternative and longer-term initiatives: Community Kitchens. Here, community members “dish up" together. The Community Kitchens not only provide a warm meal, but at the same time, they create social spaces of exchange and support, where structural inequality is addressed and where the human right to food and dignity is fostered and strengthened. 


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