War Against Hunger: Meet Maureen Mabanga Who Has Been Feeding Community Members Since 1996


Sizizihlobo community soup kitchen is one of Western Cape’s popular food kitchens.

The soup kitchen is located in Khayelitsha, a partially informal township in Western Cape, in the City of Cape Town.

The founder of Sizizihlobo, Maureen Mabanga started the soup kitchen in 1996. At the time, Mabanga was operating from a very tiny shack in Khayelitsha, where she catered mostly for people living with HIV/AIDS.

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Maureen Mabanga is now 64 and has not relented in taking care of poor community members who find it difficult to feed.

Though the community kitchen now opens twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday), Mabanga said she still feeds people almost every day of the week.

Every week dozens of people – both old and young – rush down for a meal at the kitchen to a have a bite of her food.

She explained that the kitchen has fed a lot of people in the community; adding that she derives joy serving food to the hungry.

I would say about 70 or 80 people come through here for food. People are hungry out there and I would never turn people away. Even though we operate two days a week, sometimes I cook the whole week, just for those who have to eat.”

In a bid to facelift the food outlet, Mabanga told reporters that she had registered the kitchen with the Western Cape Department of Social Department.

Commenting on how she buys foodstuff, Mabanga said South Africa’s international trading company FoodForward SA in Epping regularly supplies vegetables, tinned foods, flour, mealie meal, noodles and even snacks to her kitchen once a month.

She said most of the food she receives from FoodForward SA are overproduced food which are considered waste by retailers and manufacturers, but which is still edible.

FoodForward SA Development Manager Kate Hamilton also explained that apart from groceries, it also distributes household detergents, sanitary wears and nappies.

The company also redistributes food returned from retailers to over 600 NGOs in the country, according to Hamilton.

Hamilton explained that the reason for the distribution is to tackle hunger in the country, which she said is taking a toll on poor families in the country.

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FoodForward SA is formerly known as Food Bank. The company said on its homepage that it is mandate is to collect edible surplus food from manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers and redistribute this food to hundreds of verified NPOs that collectively feed thousands of hungry people across South Africa.

FoodForwards partners with some reputable companies in the country. 10 of them are; Shoprite, Cape Town Market, Food Lovers Market, Pioneer Foods, Kelloggs, Pick n Pay, Nestle, Parmalat, Cambridge Food and Albany.

Maureen Mabanga indeed is a rare gem.