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Nourishing the nation: A comparative look at food security in party manifestos

An estimated 30 children are dying each day from malnutrition-related causes. This is happening in a country that produces more than enough food for everyone and where the right to sufficient food is enshrined in our Constitution. To improve access to basic nutritious foods, DGMT and Grow Great have proposed a double-discounted list of 10 budget-friendly food items. Food retailers and manufacturers were asked to waive their profit on just one food label of 10 highly nutritious staple foods, with government providing a matching subsidy. In this way, these foods could be double discounted to the consumer. What do political party manifestos say about child hunger? We reviewed 13 party positions to understand their stance.

The ANC manifesto commits to VAT exemptions for more foodstuffs, state support for home gardens and pressuring fair pricing from retailers.

The DA’s manifesto proposes an increase in the Child Support Grant and extending its coverage to pregnant mothers as well as increasing zero-rated VAT on more essential items. The EFF manifesto also commits to doubling the Child Support Grant and expanding VAT-free staples and providing daily nutritious meals in schools.

Both the IFP and ACDP propose expanding the VAT zero-rating of more nutritious food items frequently purchased by low-income families.

GOOD wants to introduce a R999 universal basic income grant to address poverty and food insecurity while Action-SA also proposes a three-year universal basic income stimulus (UBIS) and the removal of VAT on heating and cooking solutions commonly used by indigent families.

In April 2024, RISE Mzanzi released a media statement where they proposed several initiatives to address stunting, malnutrition, and hunger among children and South Africans. They plan to collaborate with major retailers to develop voucher mechanisms to make high-nutrition food more affordable and desirable. They also endorse proposals such as the list of 10 double-discounted budget-friendly food items developed by Grow Great and the DG Murray Trust. This collaboration aims to discount foodstuffs crucial to a child’s development, making them affordable to millions more families. Additionally, RISE Mzansi aims to introduce a Maternal Support Grant, expand the National School Nutrition Programme, support community food gardens, provide agricultural extension support for subsistence farmers, stop food waste through new legislation, and increase the Child Support Grant to address malnutrition, hunger, and food insecurity among children and South Africans.

There are some interesting innovations when it comes to approaching the issue of food security. The UDM manifesto emphasises integrating nutrition guidance and family planning into primary healthcare, while the ATM proposes a programme of action to provide support and resources to households with available land, aiming to boost food security. The FF+, Al-Jama-Ah and BOSA are all silent on closing the food gap.

Ensuring food security is a shared goal across all political party manifestos this election. While each party offers distinct strategies, there is a unanimous acceptance of the importance of increasing access to affordable nutritious food.

To learn more about our work to close the food gap and affect policy change, please read two policy briefs developed by DGMT’s new initiative, Change Ideas.

Double-discounted list of 10 budget-friendly food items

In this brief, DGMT and Grow Great focus on one practical intervention – 10 budget-friendly food items – which is about nutritious, cost-conscious foods.

Download brief

Children and Nutrition

In this policy brief, we examine the status and circumstances of our country’s children who feel the impact of hunger and malnutrition throughout their lives, starting in the womb.

Download brief

Visit the ‘Close the Food Gap’ campaign page to learn more about how you can become involved.

DGMT has developed some learning briefs throughout the years. Click on the links below to read them.

Sustainable steps to address SA's hunger crisis.

Learn more

The case for supporting pregnant women.

Learn more

Empowering women and helping babies to grow great.

Learn more

How to create a more fair, inclusive and sustainable food system.

Learn more

Grow Great: Closer to a stunting-free future.

Learn more
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