With the coronavirus putting severe strain on hygiene and nutrition resources, agro-processing group Tongaat Hulett and Southern Lodestar Foundation are distributing thousands of hand sanitiser kits and instant porridge packs in KwaZulu-Natal.

As the government battles the possibility of a runaway coronavirus outbreak, Tongaat Hulett and the Foundation are working with the KZN Department of Health to safeguard the health of several communities in and around the Maidstone, Darnall, Amatikulu and Felixton sugar mills on the North Coast.

Tongaat Hulett has allocated R445 000 for the procurement and distribution of 7 500 hand sanitiser kits containing antibacterial soap, hand sanitiser and tissues. These will be distributed through the Tongaat clinic, Ndwedwe clinic, Stanger hospital, Ngwelezane hospital and Catherine Booth hospital which are frequented by Tongaat Hulett employees, their families and stakeholders.

The Southern Lodestar Foundation which supports communities in the fields of health, nutrition, physical activity and nutrition education, will distribute 2 000 instant porridge packs to indigent children living around the five health centres.

The closure of schools in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on learners who relied on school feeding schemes for a daily meal. Thus, many children have been going without nutritious food.

Sne Ndlela, Tongaat Hulett Socio-economic Development Executive, said: “As a business that works in various communities, we were concerned about the health and wellbeing of men, women and children during the coronavirus crisis.

“Humanity is presently facing a potential global calamity, and as a responsible company, we saw an opportunity to help people in vulnerable households to improve their hygiene and arrest the spread of the virus.”

She said Tongaat Hulett was committed to working closely with the KZN Department of Health in promoting safe and healthy communities particularly in rural areas.

Over the years, the company has partnered with the Department to promote the “HIV and Me” programme which supported 5 000 learners in 10 schools, within the Ilembe district municipality, who were infected or affected by HIV and AIDS.

André Redinger, founder of the Southern Lodestar Foundation, said the closure of schools and the current lockdown posed a massive problem for children who depended on the daily meal they received at school.

“Our mission is to alleviate hunger in vulnerable children by providing feeding and nutrition education programmes to allow these children to thrive at school, and to inspire them to strive for personal and community development.

“Nutrition is the cornerstone of a healthy life. Nourishment is key for any child to grow mentally and physically. Therefore, we decided to donate 2 000 units of instant porridge containing wholegrain maize which is high in energy, fibre, protein and vitamins. These will be distributed through the identified health centres,” he said.

Dr Sandile Tshabalala, Head of Department at KZN Department of Health said: “We welcome the donation from Tongaat Hulett and Southern Lodestar Foundation and it will go a long way in limiting the spread of the coronavirus and in helping vulnerable children access nourishment.

“We encourage other stakeholders in the province to join hands with the Department in making our communities safe and healthy. Companies and stakeholders that are keen to contribute are welcome to contact the office of the HOD in the province.”

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