Ricochet News

New Ugie food processing plant will supply 1 000 meals per day for needy children

MARCH 28, 2017
New Ugie food processing plant will supply 1 000 meals per day for needy children

Thanks to a joint effort between PG Bison, SA's leading diversified timber company, its suppliers and farmers in Ugie, a food processing plant with the capacity to produce and package 1 000 meals for needy children per day will soon see the light.

PG Bison is assisting with renovations, while vegetables will be donated by local farmers. Farmers also donated the facility. The meals will be distributed via Early Childhood Development centres that are being established by Judea Hope.

Pieter de Wet, general manager for PG Bison in Ugie, says it is very encouraging to witness the community uniting around the cause of providing for and educating its children.

Through its support to Judea Hope over the past year, PG Bison and JEI, one of its suppliers, already helps to feed close to 500 children every day. More than 10 000 meals have been distributed in the past year. Also, 22 Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers are participating in a course developed by the University of Pretoria.

Some of these teachers run ECD centres with 50 children, while others are simply moms who look after ten kids in their homes.

PG Bison's Ugie plantations and board plant is the small Eastern Cape town's largest employer. De Wet says he believes that the well-being of the plant is deeply connected with that of residents of the surrounding area. Hence his passion to invest in community development in a variety of ways.

It has helped create hundreds of employment opportunities by assisting the community to set up small business in the plant's supply chain. The company has also partnered with a variety of stakeholders to provide support to local high schools.

Taking community support to a new level

Judea Hope Director Louis Blom is excited about starting the next phase in the transformation of Ugie.

He says the new processing facility will double up as an ECD centre, and a training facility. "We will also use the current processing facility as a hub to supply the existing ECG centres in tents around Ugie."

There are now three tents in Ugie, that act as ECD centres and distribution points for meals and training. Judea Hope has established 3 000 such tents across South Africa.

A united front against poverty

One of the early spin-offs of the broader intervention is that farmers, schools, the community and business sector have joined hands.

"The project has been able to forge unity between all these stakeholders, to bring transformation through the education of children. This has been accomplished in just one year. We are excited to see how to continued roll-out of the initiative will have a long-term transformative effect.

"The vision is to be able to send well-fed, well-equipped, disciplined and well-prepared children to school. This will help bring peace and stability to the community in the longer term. We enjoy an immense amount of goodwill with the community."

A turnkey role

Blom says PG Bison played a significant role in helping Judea Hope become established in the area.

"They provided finances and land, and helped ensure that we get all the role players together. They do not just talk about development, they invest in it."