In the Words of Nelson Mandela: “Freedom is meaningless if people cannot put food in their stomachs”. This Mandela Day, Mensch, a Jewish social justice non-profit organisation in partnership with the UJC and other community organisations, the SA Urban Food and Farming Trust (SAUFFT), and Ikhaya Le Langa, where the event was held, brought over 120 people from all over Cape Town to Langa, to make soup and support on-going food sustainability initiatives in the community of Langa. Over R60,000 was raised, 500 litres of soup made, to be distributed through 3 community soup kitchens, and R12,000 paid to local small urban farmers in income for their produce that went into the making of the soup! 

Covid brought into sharp relief the deep-seated food insecurities in our cities. While providing a nutritious meal to over 1500 people in celebration of Madiba’s birthday is a noble cause, this event also empowered people to feed themselves and their families for the foreseeable future and created income-generation opportunities through food. Monies raised will assist SAUFFT to support 150 urban farmers working in 31 food gardens and social farms across Langa; and Ikhaya Le Langa, a community centre that facilitates social enterprises, will be establishing and maintaining 200 household food gardens.  

This Mandela Day Cook-a-Thon now its 5th year, was a hybrid in-person and virtual event, bringing communities together in Langa, and virtually around the world – to honour the legacy, leadership and vision of Madiba. Together, people from all over Cape Town prepared a delicious soup – chopping veggies grown and procured locally from urban farmers in Langa, followed by a ‘Lunch & Learn’ – where volunteers heared from local farmers, social entrepreneurs and community organisers. 

The event is the brainchild of local non-profit organisation, Mensch, a Jewish social justice organisation committed to empowering and capacitating change-makers and activating inter-community connection and active citizenship. 

“Madiba’s vision for a new South Africa was one where we all have a role to play, shoulder-to-shoulder, to create a more equitable future for all. This event creates an opportunity for working together to create our shared future, one of resilience, pride and self-actualisation” says Mensch founder and executive director, Gina Flash. 

“I was looking forward to the event but found that I got so much more out of it than I anticipated… The veggie chopping and soup preparation was fun and allowed us a chance to get ‘hands on’ but, for me, the real value was the introduction to Ikhaya Le Langa and the urban farming initiatives that are creating such possibility in Langa. It is so heart-warming and encouraging to see the effort and expertise going into such projects.” says participant Anthea Pinheiro. 

The event was supported by community partners the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) a global Jewish humanitarian organisation, the Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies, and the United Jewish Campaign (UJC).