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How to access a food parcel in the Western Cape

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The access to food availability for poor and working-class communities has come into the spotlight since the start of government’s lockdown, aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus in South Africa. The financial burden of people not being able to work during this period, added to the existing state of joblessness, has plunged people further into poverty. Since the lockdown came into effect on 27 March and with its extension until the end of April, there is a deep sense of worry and anxiety over food security.

In announcing the extended lockdown to the nation on Thursday 9 April, President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined a raft of economic interventions, which includes a programme of increased social support to protect poor and vulnerable households. He added that the Solidarity Fund would allocate funds for humanitarian relief to vulnerable households, in addition to the R400 million set aside by the government for Social Relief of Distress grants.

But days after the speech, there remain questions on how impoverished communities can access this food relief and whether these interventions are trickling down to those who need it most.

We broke down some of these interventions:

Western Cape Department of Social Development

In terms of the Western Cape Government’s emergency lockdown nutrition programme, the provincial Department of Social Development has made additional R35 million available for food relief programmes from Provincial Treasury allocations, to widen its existing nutrition safety net.
As part of this effort, 50 000 food parcels will be provided once-off to support a family of four for one month during the lockdown and is based on set criteria.

The qualifying criteria include:

• Households affected by COVID-19 infections in the following instances:
– A member/s of the family who tested positive for the virus and are in quarantine
in their homes.
– A household where a member of the family who tested positive for the virus and
who have insufficient means to sustain themselves during the lockdown period.
• A person who is on medication or who suffers from a chronic illness and have
insufficient means to sustain themselves and was assessed and referred by a
local clinic or registered health practitioner.
• A person and their household who have insufficient means to sustain
themselves during the lockdown period who was referred by a registered
humanitarian relief agency, registered NPO or a municipal manager, and
assessed by DSD. In this instance, persons not yet in receipt of SASSA grants,
including the elderly, child headed houses, grant awaiting beneficiaries will be

What is the process?

Requests that are sent through from a call centre, municipal manager, humanitarian relief agency, or registered NPO are routed to DSD social workers. This information is added to a central DSD database, followed by a telephonic assessment by one of our social workers, and screening of the person’s ID against SASSA’s database to check whether the person is an existing grant or food recipient from SASSA.
Once a prospective beneficiary is confirmed as meeting the criteria, they are then contacted by the Department, and given details of when delivery will take place. This process is followed to ensure the most vulnerable can receive this limited resource

How to make contact

Call the department toll-free on 0800 220 250 ; share-call on 0860 142 142 or send a ‘please call me’ on 079 769 1207 Alternatively, email or

SASSA assistance

The Social South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) has a Social Relief of Distress (SRD) initiative in the form of food parcels as a temporary provision. Social relief of distress is temporary provision of assistance intended for persons in such a dire material need that they are unable to meet their families’ most basic needs.

What do you get?

The Social Relief of Distress may be in the form of a food parcel or a voucher to buy food. Some provinces give this assistance in the form of cash. Social Relief of Distress is given for a short time only – usually for up to three months, which may be extended for another three months.

What you should do
-Apply for social relief of distress at your nearest South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) office.
-Submit your application with the following documents:
-your 13-digit bar-coded identity document and your children’s birth certificates.
-if your identity document and/or a birth certificate are not available:
-an affidavit commissioned by a Justice of the Peace. The affidavit must contain a clause which indicates that provision of incorrect or inaccurate information will result in prosecution in terms of Section 21 of the Social Assistance Act, 2004.
-a sworn statement by a reputable person who knows the applicant and the child. This may be from a councillor, traditional leader, social worker or minister of religion.
-proof that an application for a birth certificate or identity document has been lodged with the Department of Home Affairs.
-where applicable, a temporary identity document issued by the Department of Home Affairs.
-a road to health clinic card.
-a school report.

No application can be processed without the sworn statement/affidavit.
If you do not have an identity document and birth certificates, an affidavit from your local police station, chief, councillor or religious leader may be enough proof.

Once your application is submitted, it will be assessed for credibility and your genuine need for the service.

Even if you do not have all the documents, you will get your first month’s food parcel, voucher or cash. Remember to take all the documents to the officer before the second month’s payment is due. If you do not, you may not get your second and third month’s food parcel, voucher or cash.
If there is no change in your circumstances after you have received the grant for three months, you may apply to have the grant extended for another three months.

Forms to complete

The application form is not available online, but you can get it at your nearest SASSA office.
For more information call 0800 60 10 11


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