Sharing a birthday with Madiba has special significance for anyone who arrived on the planet on 18 July, but for the Spur Foundation, it’s extra special. The Foundation was established on 18 July 2012 and they take pride in their strong focus on children – little people whom Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela loved and encouraged during his lifetime.
Since its inception, the Foundation has supported, and continues to support a number of causes, ranging from the ASHA Trust, which trains Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre owners, to FoodBank South Africa, the Teddy Bear Clinic and Reach for a Dream. During this time, it has undergone a period of growth, followed by reflection and consolidation to reach the strategy that is now being implemented.
It was Madiba’s commitment to children that inspired The Spur Foundation’s focus on the first 2,000 days of a child’s life, with particular emphasis on ECD and nutrition. Partnering with JAM South Africa, a non-profit organisation that offers nutritious breakfasts to many thousands of children every school day, the Foundation has pledged to facilitate mini make-overs at seven early childhood development (ECD) centres in Diepsloot, Khayelitsha, Franschhoek and Chesterville, Kwa-Zulu Natal in JAM’s care.
Foundation Manager, Tara van Schalkwyk says: “Our focus on developing children forms part of our long-term vision to help South Africa reach the potential that we know exists within the country. By starting with children under the age of six, we have the opportunity to create a strong educational and developmental foundation through our work in the ECD sector.”
She added that although Mandela Day provides a wonderful opportunity for organisations to come together for the betterment of society, the Foundation is at pains to ensure that their involvement is not a ‘flash in the pan’, but rather a focused, sustained programme that will have a long-term effect on the communities that it touches.
“We see our efforts in the sector as the beginning of a long and, we hope, fruitful journey. Working with a partner like JAM South Africa broadens our reach into the communities that they serve and into aspects of development that we would never be able to achieve alone.”
To this end, the Spur Foundation has launched the Full Tummy Fund, a programme that focuses on both ECD and nutrition for children from disadvantaged communities up to the age of six. “We knew that in order to have impact, we had to focus,” said Ms van Schalkwyk. “Our core business centres around food, which made our decision easy – we wanted to extend our reach from those who have the luxury of eating for pleasure, to those for whom the most basic meal is hard-won.”
One of the Full Tummy Fund’s focuses, in partnership with JAM South Africa, is the establishment of food gardens in ECD centres around the country – providing a source of fresh produce for the facilities’ kitchens to utilise, as well as offering an educational and recreational outlet for the children.
“Our Mandela Day focus for 2016 is on six ECD facilities in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. Each one will receive a mini-makeover from the Foundation’s willing volunteers, who are drawn from all of the Spur Corporation’s operations: Spur, Panarottis, John Dory’s Fish Grill Sushi and RocoMamas. In addition, we will be establishing Full Tummy Fund gardens in three of the centres – two in Gauteng and one in the Western Cape. The two ECD centres in Gauteng will also be given access to water,” explained Ms van Schalkwyk.
She added that these centres will also receive basic equipment for their gardens and kitchens. These sustainable food gardens, established and developed under the watchful eye of the JAM South Africa fieldworkers, with the goal of providing regular fresh produce for the ECD kitchens.
“And of course, what is a birthday without a party? We will also be bringing all of the treats and snacks required for a good party to each centre – along with a gift for each child,” Ms van Schalkwyk concluded.